Flotilla's landmark tour nears end

Updated 2017-10-06 08:02:53 China Daily

Chinese Navy convoy arrives in Thailand on record-breaking journey

The longest journey by a Chinese Navy convoy nears completion, with a flotilla arriving on Wednesday in Thailand, its final stop before heading home.

Three Chinese naval vessels-CNS Changchun, a Type 052C guided-missile destroyer; CNS Jinzhou, a Type 054A guided-missile frigate; and CNS Chaohu, a Type 903A replenishment ship-began a four-day goodwill visit to Sattahip on Wednesday morning.

At a welcome ceremony, Rear Admiral Shen Hao, commander of the flotilla, said the visit was designed to strengthen bilateral relations and boost cooperation.

The Chinese Navy will continue to work with the Royal Thai Navy in safeguarding regional peace and stability, he said.

Representatives from the Thai navy, the Chinese embassy and local Chinese enterprises as well as Chinese students at Thai universities were given a guided tour of the visiting vessels.

During the visit, the two sides plan to hold open houses, entertainment activities, commanders' meetings and joint exercises, according to the Chinese Navy.

Thailand is the last stop of an almost six-month journey by the Chinese flotilla. It is the longest of its kind by the Chinese Navy.

The flotilla left its home port in Shanghai on April 23, the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy.

Before arriving in Thailand, it had made goodwill voyages to 19 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania, including Vietnam, Iran, Italy and Tanzania.

It is expected to return to China as early as next week, which means the entire voyage will have lasted more than 170 days, according to the PLA Navy. The record currently stands at 168 days, which was fulfilled by three ships from August 2015 to February 2016, straight after a four-month escort mission in the Gulf of Aden.

In another development, the 26th Escort Fleet of the Chinese Navy arrived in London on Tuesday to begin a five-day visit. This is the fourth visit to the United Kingdom by Chinese naval ships and the first time they have called at the British capital.

Before the UK, the fleet stopped at Denmark and Belgium after completing a four-month escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, which ended in late August.

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