A Chinese sailor stands on duty during an accompanying escort mission for a merchant ship. Photo by Zhang Yuanhu
BEIJING, June 8 - The 44th Chinese naval escort taskforce completed its escort mission for the Panamanian merchant ship Heilan Song after it arrived at the safe area in the Mandab Strait on June 2, local time. The merchant ship crew expressed thanks to the Chinese warship through Channel 16 VHF.
On May 27, upon receiving the request of the Panamanian merchant ship, the 44th Chinese naval escort taskforce made careful preparation and dispatched the destroyer Zibo to carry out the accompanying escort mission.
In light of the recent frequent piracy activities, the warship Zibo maintained timely communication with the escorted ship en route. Also, it deployed the helicopter to conduct air patrol when passing through complex waters or at other special moments.
En convoy, a mother pirate ship with three dinghies once tailed after the merchant ship and tried to attack. The ship Zibo activated the radar to monitor the targets and adjusted its course to block the merchant ship, shining a bright light on the incoming pirates and sounding a siren to warn them away at the same time.
"Pirates often employ the cover of darkness to make sudden boarding and hijacking of passing merchant ships, ” said Zhang Wei, head of the taskforce's commanding group. “We must stay alert all the time to ensure the safety of the escorted merchant ship."
It is learnt that in the past 15 years since China launched the escort missions, the PLA Navy has dispatched more than 100 vessels to escort more than 7,000 Chinese and foreign ships, with nearly 100 rescuing and protecting targets involved, more than 50% of which are foreign ships.