Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Somali Pirates: China's Mission Off Somalia Long-Term

China will sustain its anti-piracy mission off Somali, a Chinese spokeman says here:
Chinese navy's anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast will not end in a short period of time, navy rear admiral Zhang Deshun of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said here Wednesday.

"The navy has already made a long-term plan for our escorting missions to the Gulf of Aden," said Zhang, deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy.

"The length of our mission depends on the Somali political and social stability. We feel our mission will not come to an end soon," Zhang told Xinhua.

Earlier report by the Beijing-based China Daily quoted Zhang saying that China will renew its anti-piracy mission by sending new ships and crew to replace its current three-ship flotilla in late April or early May.

The flotilla, destroyers Wuhan and Haikou, and the supply ship Weishanhu, took up its duties off the Somali coast in January.

With a crew of more than 800 members including 70 soldiers from the Navy's special forces, the three ships have already escorted 104 ships and rescued three foreign merchant ships from pirate attacks, according to Huang Jiaxiang, political commissar of the PLA Navy's South China Sea Fleet.

Huang admitted that the navy's anti-piracy mission might encounter great challenges in the coming months, as the number of ships passing the water off the Somali coast would increase from April to September, and the conditions on the sea during that time would be more hostile
By "more hostile" I assume that he meant that conditions favoring the pirates would be improving- weather and wave heights, for example.

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