Travelling over 100,000 nautical miles during a 235-day voyage, Ma Liang, captain of the Chinese navy frigate Jingzhou, arrived in China earlier this month after successfully completing his latest escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia.
Ma is a member of the 44th fleet dispatched by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy to carry out escort operations in the two areas. During the mission, the fleet escorted a total of 33 Chinese and foreign ships to ensure their safety on the sea.
Ma recalled that the first time he participated in one of these missions in 2009, the Gulf of Aden still faced a regular threat of pirates. Today, according to the navy officer, fewer and fewer pirates can be found in the busy gulf.
Since December 2008, China has been dispatching naval ships to carry out vessel protection operations in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia.
Over the past 15 years, 45 consecutive fleets, 150 vessels and 35,000 personnel of the PLA Navy have joined the efforts, escorting more than 7,200 Chinese and foreign vessels, including 12 World Food Program ships.
To ward off pirates, the PLA Navy has adjusted and expanded its escort zones persistently, improved its escort tactics, and carried out diversified drills and exchanges with navies of other countries.
In the Spring of 2011, the frigate Xuzhou of the 7th escort mission fleet successfully escorted the vessels tasked with evacuating Chinese nationals out of Libya. It was the first time that a Chinese warship participated in a civilian evacuation amid a humanitarian crisis.
After civil war broke out in Yemen in the spring of 2015, the 19th escort mission fleet sailed to the country, evacuating a total of 683 Chinese nationals and 279 foreign citizens from 15 different countries.
During the evacuation of Chinese personnel in Sudan in 2023, the 43rd escort mission fleet’s destroyer Nanning and supply ship Weishanhu ensured that more than 1,000 Chinese and foreign people leave the country successfully.
The PLA Navy’s endeavors have won widespread recognition, with many merchant vessels from other countries applying for Chinese navy escorts and protection.
In September this year, the 45th escort mission fleet set sail from China and embarked on its journey to continue the PLA Navy’s unrelenting quest for peace in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).