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All in the same boat

China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-01 10:45

During its two-week mission in the Gulf of Aden, the Peace Ark received sailors and officers from four foreign escort fleets, including those from South Korea and the Netherlands, for the exchange of information and medical services.

"We're here to fight piracy together, and we all need medical treatment," said Colonel Hoff, the leader of the Dutch delegation. "I myself am a doctor and I provide treatment on my ship, but, of course, provisions on a warship are extremely limited. It's good to know that there's a real hospital ship like Peace Ark helping us."

Following a tour of the Chinese hospital vessel, Kim Jong-hee, chief of staff on a South Korean escort ship, said he's looking forward to more cooperation with the Chinese navy and the Peace Ark.

Onno Boshouwers, a staff officer on a Turkish escort ship, said he's been on deployment in the gulf many times and has worked closely with the Chinese navy.

"Back in 2009, when piracy was at its peak, we exchanged a lot of information," he said. "Now we are able to visit each other's ships. It's always easier to cooperate if you've met someone and looked them in the eye."

Commodore Jorge Novo Palma, from a Portuguese escort ship, said he was impressed by the facilities aboard the Peace Ark. He suggested that in future, foreign medical staff could work on board and the number of medical exchanges with other countries could be increased.

Rear Admiral Shen Hao, the commander of the 2013 Peace Ark mission, said that on its previous mission, the ship wasn't authorized to contact foreign fleets directly or provide services.

"But this time, providing services and having exchanges with foreign ships is one of our most important tasks," said Shen. "The change shows that China and the Chinese navy is becoming more capable and more confident. We have also learned a lot from our foreign friends."

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