ESCORT TEAM GAINS VALUABLE EXPERIENCE IN MISSIONS
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.