China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Since China started its es­cort mis­sions at the end of 2008, sailors and of­fi­cers from a Ma­rine Brigade of the PLA navy’s South Sea Fleet have par­tic­i­pated in many mis­sions.

In 2010, the brigade es­tab­lished a team to train and send sailors and of­fi­cers on es­cort mis­sions.

Li Zhen­hua, deputy head, led a 70-mem­ber team that par­tic­i­pated in the es­cort mis­sion con­ducted by the 12th tour of war­ships in 2012.

The team made prepa­ra­tions be­fore en­ter­ing So­mali waters, and Li helped draw up prac­tice pro­grams for es­corts, such as drills in­volv­ing res­cu­ing hi­jacked ships. The es­cort team also en­gaged in weight-train­ing and anti-ter­ror­ism drills.

Sailors and of­fi­cers have gained ex­pe­ri­ence from the es­corts. Li’s team has had six con­fronta­tions with pi­rates and com­pleted es­cort mis­sions for com­mer­cial ships.

On Aug 28, 2010, a group of pi­rates driv­ing 14 high-speed boats sur­rounded Li’s es­cort fleet. Li quickly or­dered the sailors to be ready for com­bat, and two mem­bers mon­i­tored the pi­rates from a he­li­copter.

The pi­rates even­tu­ally left the area. Li later de­ter­mined that the sailors’ needed to be de­ployed faster.

Speed was also a prob­lem in a joint drill with US es­cort sailors in Septem­ber 2012, in which both sides sent 18 mem­bers to board a ship. Ac­cord­ing to Li, the team changed the se­quence of mem­bers to board the ship, which had saved time for the drill.

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