Chinese naval escort task force safeguards vital international waterways for 15 years

China Military Online
Chen Zhuo
2023-12-26 18:56:56

The photo shows in October 2023, the 45th Chinese naval escort taskforce escorts multiple Chinese fishing vessels. (Photo by Wang Yuanfang)

December 4, 2023 marks an extraordinary milestone for the 45th Chinese naval escort taskforce, as it accomplished the escorting task for the Portuguese heavy-lift cargo ship UHL Fighter and the Panamanian bulk carrier Heilan Rising  to the designated areas. By then, the Chinese naval escort task force has completed 1,600 escort missions in the past 15 years since 2008.

The Gulf of Aden, which holds the chokepoint linking the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea, is one of the busiest sea areas in the world, with tens of thousands of merchant vessels passing through it every year. However, rampant piracy has turned it into a sea of terror, with more than 30 ships hijacked and 600 crew members kidnapped as early as 2008. The first Chinese naval escort taskforce was dispatched by the end of that year. Since then, Chinese and foreign merchant vessels transiting the water gradually grew familiar with the VHF channel One-Six, radio channel used by the Chinese naval escort taskforce, in times of need. 

During the past 15 years, the Chinese Navy has dispatched more than 150 warships in 45 batches of escort taskforces, completing more than 1,600 escort missions for more than 7,200 ships, over 50% of which are foreign ships. Behind these figures are the terrifying and heartwarming stories one after another.

On April 8, 2017, the Tuvalu-flagged merchant ship OS35 was hijacked by pirates. Guided-missile frigate Yulin of the 25th Chinese naval escort taskforce rapidly maneuvered to the incident sea area after being informed. Special operations team members boarded the merchant ship, arrested three pirates, and successfully rescued 19 detained crew members.

On April 24, 2020, the sailing yacht Deep Blue encountered the 34th escort taskforce in the Gulf of Aden, and was then invited to join the formation of the escorting vessels.

In April 2022, guided-missile frigate Yueyang of the 40th escort taskforce escorted three fishing boats, which were owned by a company that had requested the task force to escort them in the Gulf of Aden for the 8th time. On the way, all the crew members of the fishing boats waved the Chinese national flag to salute the escorting officers and soldiers.

On April 24, 2023, guided-missile destroyer Nanning and comprehensive supply ship Weishanhu of the 43rd escort taskforce sailed to Port Sudan to carry out emergency evacuation of Chinese nationals in Sudan. It was the third time the Chinese navy had dispatched warships on an overseas evacuation mission after the previous evacuation operations in Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015. This time, the taskforce successfully evacuated not only 940 Chinese nationals from Port Sudan, but also another 231 foreign nationals.

Over the past 15 years, the Chinese PLA Navy has been safeguarding peace and security with actual actions. And they also escorted ships of the World Food Programme (WFP), undertook the joint search and rescue task for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, provided fresh water for the Maldives, just to name a few.

Chinese naval escort troops always keep in mind the words of President Xi Jinping, “The blue planet humans inhabit is not divided into islands by the oceans, but is connected by the oceans to form a community with a shared future, where people of all countries share weal and woe. ” 

As Zheng He, a famous ancient Chinese navigator, had made seven voyages to the Pacific and Indian oceans, sowing the seeds of peace and goodwill more than 600 years ago, China is now as committed to preserving world peace as ever. The Chinese naval escort task forces will continue to perform international responsibilities and play a greater role in safeguarding the security of vital international waterways.

Related News