Chinese Navy fleets have escorted 1110 ships in Somali waters

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 The four Chinese Navy convoy fleets on anti-piracy patrol in Somali waters since last December have escorted 1,110 merchant ships through the troubled waters, a senior officer of the People's Liberation Army said Friday.

Speaking at an international anti-piracy seminar in Hong Kong, Senior Captain Hu Gangfeng, deputy director of the Naval Bureau, Operations Department of the PLA General Staff Headquarters said 312 of the escorted merchant ships were registered in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and 323 were foreign ships.

The first Chinese Navy convoy fleet left for Somali waters last December and returned to China in April after four months of operation there. Three more fleets have been sent since then, with the last arriving in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday.

Hu said the Chinese Navy fleets also rescued 12 hijacked or attacked foreign merchant ships.

Navy representatives from China, the United Kingdom and the European Union said piracy in the Somali waters have been spreading farther offshore recently, with some seen as far as 900 nautical miles east of the Somali coast.

They called for enhanced cooperation and coordination among the countries and organizations involved in the anti-piracy escort missions and proposed a division of the water coverage so as to protect ships more efficiently.

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