Navy de­stroyer

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By JIN HAIXING jin­haix­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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