The destroyer Haikou, one of the most advanced warships in the People’s Liberation Army navy, will be ready for duty this month after a 10-month maintenance period.
The Type 052C-class destroyer underwent the routine maintenance period scheduled for every 10 years of the ship’s life, with work conducted at a military port in Guangdong province, according to authorities.
Construction on the ship started in 2002, and in 2005, it entered service in the South Sea Fleet, based in Guangdong province.
The maintenance included checking major components of the ship and repainting the main internal and external areas, said Li Hui, the ship’s captain.
The ship’s sailors and officers worked hard to ensure the combat readiness of the ship after maintenance was completed.
Wang Dong, a technician working on the Haikou, said many sailors worked in the shipyard that performed the maintenance and learned repair skills there that may be useful at sea. The idea was to prepare sailors to make emergency repairs when necessary, reducing the chances of the ship being out of action for long periods at sea.
Over the 10-month maintenance, the Haikou’s crew continued to take part in various training operations. More than 100 sailors and officers participated in different missions, such as a joint Chinese-Russian military drill in July, Li said.
“The ship is ready for any mission now that the repair work is finished,” Li said.
The ship’s crew of 277, 16 of whom are women, receives training that simulates “real combat” environments, according to the ship’s publicity officer.
The Haikou spends 280 days a year in “voyage training” at sea. Since it was commissioned in 2005, the ship has undertaken more than 30 missions, said Wu Chao, a publicity official for the PLA navy.
The Haikou is a successful example of PLA navy’s performance at sea and combat capabilities, Wu said. Escort duties
December marks the fifth anniversary of China’s escort mission to help fight pirates off the coast of Somalia. So far, China has sent 45 warships in 15 tours to engage in escort missions for vessels heading through Somali waters.
The Haikou participated in the first and 10th of the warships escort tours, each time accompanied by another destroyer and a supply ship. So far, the PLA navy has escorted 5,200 ships through the dangerous Somali waters.
In February 2009, the Haikou was dispatched to receive the Chinese commercial ship, the Tianyu No 8 after its release by Somali pirates. The ship had been hijacked and held by pirates for more than 80 days.
When it was released, it was running very low on supplies.
The Haikou’s officers and soldiers donated food and clothes to help the commercial ship’s crew after their release.
More importantly, the destroyer provided 60 tons of fuel as well as other supplies for the Tianyu No 8, despite difficulties posed by bad weather in the area.
As word of the PLA navy’s safe and effective escorts spread in the area, more foreign ships, including those from Singapore, Cyprus and Greece, applied to join the Chinese escort fleets.
To meet their requests, the Haikou selected sailors who could speak fluent English to liaise with their partner ships. It set up a 24-hour bilingual signal channel and maintained contact with commercial ships from China and other countries by e-mail and fax.
The Haikou’s contribution won the appreciation of foreign ships and international associations. In November 2009, the Haikou was awarded the Certificates for Exceptional Services Rendered to Shipping and Mankind by the International Maritime Organization.
Smoke billows from the Haikou’s main deck gun during a training exercise.