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China renews anti-piracy warships in Gulf of Aden

CHINA has sent two more warships to relieve a pair of destroyers that have been on anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and the coast of Somalia since January 6. The replacement vessels, destroyer DDG-167 Shenzhen and the newly-built frigate FFG-570 Huangshan, will rendezvous with supply ship Weishanhu, which will remain in the Gulf. Both vessels left Zhanjiang in Guangdong province yesterday and are expected to arrive in the Gulf of Aden in the middle of this month. Commenting on the deployment, force commander Rear Admiral Yao Zhilou said: "Pirates have recently expanded their zone of operations, coordinated with each other, upgraded their weapons and selected a wider range of targets. They also tend to use force more often." Admiral Yao is also vice-commander of China’s South China Sea fleet. Shenzhen was built by Dalian Shipyard in 1997 and has been used by the Chinese military on goodwill tours to Africa in 2000, Europe in 2001 and Japan in 2007. Huangshan, which has stealthy radar
characteristics, was constructed by Shanghai’s Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding and entered service last year. Admiral Yao said: "Destroyer Shenzhen is a well-known ship after travelling to nearly 20 countries including the US, Japan and Europe, while the frigate Huangshan is a newly built warship that we want to put to the test this time." The vessels each carry a helicopter and special forces troops. The two current destroyers on patrol in the Gulf, Wuhan and Haikou, will remain in the area until relieved. Since starting anti-piracy patrols in January, the warships have escorted more than 150 mainly Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwan flagged vessels and deterred attacks on three ships.

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