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Chinese navy set for historic anti-piracy mission

The Chinese navy Two modern navies have been known in English as the Chinese Navy:
  • People's Liberation Army Navy
  • Republic of China Navy
For Chinese navies before 1912, see:
  • Imperial Chinese Navy
  • Naval history of China
 was to weigh anchor to heave or raise the anchor so as to sail away.

See also: Anchor
 for an anti-piracy mission off Africa, in the nation's first potential combat mission beyond its territorial waters territorial waters: see waters, territorial.
territorial waters

Waters under the sovereign jurisdiction of a nation or state, including both marginal sea and inland waters.
 in centuries.

The two destroyers and one supply vessel comprising the task force were waiting off the Yalong Bay Yalong Bay (亚龙湾, sometimes 牙龙湾), is a 7.5km beach located southeast of Sanya City, Hainan Province, China. It is also known as the Yalong Bay National Resort.  naval base A naval base primarily for support of the forces afloat, contiguous to a port or anchorage, consisting of activities or facilities for which the Navy has operating responsibilities, together with interior lines of communications and the minimum surrounding area necessary for local  on south China's tropical Hainan island, ready for the signal to set course for Somalia, the China Daily reported.

"Since this is the navy's first overseas mission, we could encounter unforeseen situations. But we are prepared for them," the commander of the force, Rear Admiral Du Jingcheng, told the paper.

The three vessels with around 1,000 sailors on board were expected to embark on the mission, which will last for at least three months, at 1:30 pm (0530 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) See UTC.

GMT - Universal Time 1
), the paper said.

It marks a break with tradition for the modern Chinese navy, which has focused on the defence of coastal waters, combined with the occasional friendly port call. Only in 2002 did it circumnavigate cir·cum·nav·i·gate  
tr.v. cir·cum·nav·i·gat·ed, cir·cum·nav·i·gat·ing, cir·cum·nav·i·gates
1. To proceed completely around: circumnavigating the earth.

 the globe for the first time.

Indeed, a Chinese fleet has not fired a shot in anger near Africa since the 15th century, when a Ming Dynasty armada sailed to the continent and back.

The navy has been drawn back to Africa by an escalation of pirate attacks on merchant ships, including Chinese vessels, plying the crucial shipping route linking Asia and Europe.

The three vessels -- the missile-armed destroyers DDG-171 Haikou and DDG-169 Wuhan and the Weishanhu supply ship -- are among the most sophisticated in the Chinese navy, all entering service this decade, the Xinhua news agency “Xinhua” redirects here. For other uses, see Xinhua (disambiguation).

The Xinhua News Agency (Simplified Chinese: 新华社; Traditional Chinese:

The task force will operate alongside other international warships patrolling the area.

State press suggested morale was high among the crew members, drawn from the all-volunteer navy.

"Our pride is too strong," said 21-year-old Ding He, a sailor on board the Wuhan. "It washes away the pain and rigours of training."

The mission also includes a special forces detail that has spent the past days in intensive training in maritime tactics and diving, said one of their commanders, Lieutenant Commander Xie Zengling.

"If the pirates make direct threats to the warships or the vessels we escort, the fleet will take counter-measures," he told Xinhua, bragging that one member of his unit "could handle several enemies with his bare hands."

Xinhua said the navy was prepared for the boredom of life at sea, equipping the ships with libraries, computer rooms and gyms.

China has said its warships will investigate any suspected pirate vessels, and approach them and demand that they show their relevant documents and certificates.

The UN Security Council last week gave nations a one-year mandate to act inside lawless Somalia to stop the rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden Noun 1. Gulf of Aden - arm of the Indian Ocean at the entrance to the Red Sea
Indian Ocean - the 3rd largest ocean; bounded by Africa on the west, Asia on the north, Australia on the east and merging with the Antarctic Ocean to the south
, part of the Suez Canal route.

"It is a huge breakthrough in China's concepts about security," said Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research centre at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, according to the China Daily.

"(It) sends a strong political message to the international community, that China with its improved economic and military strength is willing to play a larger role in maintaining world peace and security."
Copyright 2008 AFP Global Edition
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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Dec 26, 2008
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