Zhejiang (China), July 17 (ANI): A Chinese flotilla departed Thursday to escort merchant vessels and to protect them from pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, it was the third task force that the country has deployed to the region since the end of last year.
Two frigates and a supply ship with East Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy left a naval base in Zhoushan Islands of east China's Zhejiang Province to relieve the second flotilla, which has cruised the waters off the Somali coast for more than three months.
The second flotilla, DDG-167 Shenzhen and FFG-570 Huangshan, will be replaced by radar-evading hulled FFG-529 Zhoushan and FFG-530 Xuzhou, which carry two helicopters and a Special Forces unit.
The supply ship, Qiandaohu, will replace the first flotilla's supply ship, Weishanhu, which has been on duty in the region since the beginning of the year.
PLA Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli said: "The new flotilla may face complicated situations and atrocious weather conditions in the region."
China made an unprecedented move by sending three warships to the Gulf on December 26 last year in the first overseas escort mission for merchant vessels.
Chinese warships have escorted hundreds of domestic and foreign vessels since the first flotilla arrived in the region. (ANI)