Chinese naval fleet sails out for 2016 RIMPAC drills

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A Chinese fleet participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational naval exercises set sail for the event Wednesday.

The fleet departed from a military port in Zhoushan City in east China's Zhejiang Province. It is the second time the Chinese Navy have taken part in RIMPAC.

At the sendoff at Zhoushan, deputy navy commander Wang Hai said the mission was important for the "new type of major power relationship" between China and the United States, in addition to promoting military-to-military cooperation and exchanges.

The Chinese fleet comprises missile destroyer Xi'an; missile frigate Hengshui; supply ship Gaoyouhu; hospital ship Peace Ark; submarine rescue vessel Changdao; three helicopters; a marine squad; and a diving squad, involving 1,200 officers and soldiers.

As previously agreed by the two nations, the Chinese Navy will take part in drills including gunfire, damage control and rescue, anti-piracy, search and rescue, diving and submarine rescue. Sports events and exchanges will also be held.

Naval forces from China are scheduled to join U.S. warships in the west Pacific Ocean on June 18 and then sail to Pearl Harbor in formation.

Started in 1971 and held every two years, the U.S.-led RIMPAC is the world's largest multinational maritime military exercise. The Chinese Navy participated in RIMPAC exercises for the first time in 2014.

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