Two missile frigates of the People's Liberation Army docked at east China's port in Zhejiang province Sunday morning after their five-month escort mission in the Gulf of Aden.
Zhoushan and Xuzhou, backbone warships of the third Chinese naval escort taskforce, were sent out to the Gulf of Aden on July 16 to protect shipping from Somali pirates.
During the 158-day mission, the task force completed 53 escort missions for 582 ships, both Chinese and foreign, among which were 146 merchant ships from Hong Kong.
The Gulf of Aden is among one of the world's most important shipping lanes, crossed by 20,000 vessels each year, and a prime target for Somali pirates.
During the escort, the Chinese vessels, for the first time, conducted joint escorts as well as military exercises with foreign naval forces.
China sent three warships to the Gulf of Aden on December 26 last year in its first overseas escort mission for merchant vessels. A fourth Chinese naval flotilla was deployed to the same area on October 30.
Missile frigate Zhoushan is ready to dock at an east China's port in Zhejiang province Sunday morning. [Peng Kuang/chinadaily.com.cn]
Missile frigates Xuzhou (L) and Zhoushan (R) of the People's Liberation Army are ready to dock at an east China's port in Zhejiang province Sunday morning. [Peng Kuang/chinadaily.com.cn]