The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) 20th escort group is on a goodwill visit to Sudan after concluding its anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, marking the first such friendly visit to the East African country.
The guide-missile destroyer Jinan, the guided-missile frigate Yiyang and the supply ship Qiandaohu arrived in Port Sudan in the Republic of the Sudan on 25 August, reports Chinamil, where it began a give-day goodwill visit.
The escort group concluded its anti-piracy deployment on August 23. It was welcomed to Sudan by Commodore Moosa, commander of Sudan’s naval base, Li Lianhe, Chinese Ambassador to Sudan, as well as the staff of the embassy, representatives of China-funded institutions and overseas students.
After the welcoming ceremony, commander of the Chinese naval taskforce met with the commander of the marine division of the Sudan Navy, base commander, governor of Al-Bahral-Ahmar State, and high-ranking military and political officials, Chinamil reports.
The Chinese visiting taskforce will carry out cultural and sports exchanges during its visit in Sudan, such as warship open day, deck reception, visiting the local orphanage, holding friendly football matches and tug-of-war competitions with the Sudan navy.
The previous 19th escort group returned to China in July after spending 221 days patrolling for pirates off the East African coast and conducting goodwill visits to foreign countries. 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.
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.