By Jimu Buqian and Wang Guanbiao
FRIGATE WEIFANG, Jan. 7 -- The guided-missile frigate Weifang (Hull 550) of the 33rd Chinese naval escort taskforce under the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy successfully escorted eight fishing boats of the China National Fisheries Corporation to the designated sea area in waters west of the Gulf of Aden at 4 p.m. on January 6, local time. This is the first time that the Chinese naval escort taskforce has dispatched special forces to perform on-board escort tasks.
The eight fishing boats that were escorted this time set sail from Zhoushan Port in China’s Zhejiang Province and sailed to Morocco via the Gulf of Aden. Taking into considerations that there are totally eight ships moving in low speed and low freeboard, vulnerable to pirate attacks, the escort formation formulated a strict escort plan and sent five special combatants on board for the mission.
Five heavily armed special combatants boarded the escorted ship YUANYU 926 on the early morning of January 3. They worked with the captain of the fishing boat, assisted in improving their anti-piracy measures, and conducted anti-piracy deployment drill under different circumstances with the crew.
During the escort mission, frigate Weifang comprehensively used helicopter patrol, ship maneuver and other methods to strengthen observation and alertness. Sailors closely monitored the situation of the surrounding waters of the formation, and successfully dispersed a number of suspected pirate boats. After four days and three nights, all of the eight fishing boats passed through the dangerous waters safely.
"Big thanks to our motherland and the Chinese Navy!" said Captain Chai Guokuan of YUANYU 926. "This is the first time I have led the crew through the Gulf of Aden and the first time I am escorted by the navy of our motherland. I can personally feel the safety and convenience brought by our strong motherland. We feel very proud!" said Chai.
It is reported that the 33rd naval escort taskforce have successfully completed 23 batches of escort missions for 40 Chinese and foreign ships and have effectively maintained the safety of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia.