The Chinese navy’s 19th escort group has returned home after spending 221 days patrolling for pirates off the East African coast and conducting goodwill visits to foreign countries.
The flotilla returned to a military port in Qingdao on 10 July after setting sail in December last year. During their time at sea, the missile frigates Linyi and Weifang and supply ship Weishanhu escorted 109 ships in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, reports Xinhua.
The vessels also assisted in the evacuation of 897 Chinese and foreign nationals from Yemen earlier this year, and participated in China-Russia naval drills in the Mediterranean, the fourth such exercise between the two navies since 2012.
The flotilla also visited Croatia, Turkey and Italy. The vessels paid a goodwill visit to Croatia from 1 to 5 June and then spent five days in Italy from 7 June. They also stopped for replenishment in Malaysia on 29 June.
China has deployed anti-piracy task forces to the Gulf of Aden since December 2008 and has escorted nearly 6 000 Chinese and foreign ships and assisted over 60 vessels. Since the first task force arrived off East Africa in January 2009, Chinese navy task forces have been typically rotated every four months.
China usually sends frigates and supply vessels but in October 2014 for the first time sent a submarine, a diesel electric Type 039 Song class, to take part in anti-piracy patrols.
Chinese anti-piracy task forces visit ports in the region, such as in Djibouti, Oman and Yemen, to take on supplies but have also embarked on friendly visits to countries in the area.