On Saturday afternoon (22 June), EU Naval Force Italian warship, ITS Zeffiro and Chinese Navy warship CNS Mianyang, which are both conducting counter piracy operations, met at sea in the choppy waters of the Gulf of Aden.
The aim of the meeting was to enable CNS Mianyang to take over escort duties of a World Food Programme (WFP) aid ship from ITS Zeffiro. The Italian warship had been escorting the WFP vessel since she entered the pirate High Risk Area in the Western Indian Ocean a few days earlier.
At an agreed location, CNS Mianyang took over the duty to escort through the Gulf of Aden to Djibouti. The WFP ship is due to arrive in the African port tomorrow morning. As the warships passed by each other, the commanding officers from both ships waved to wish each other a safe passage during the current South West monsoon.
Speaking about the cooperation between the European Union and the Chinese Navy, the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant said: “The coordinated escort of a WFP ship by the Chinese Navy and EU Naval Force is testament to the high degree of cooperation between counter piracy forces at sea. I look forward to future cooperation, not only in support of the protection of WFP ships, but also in other areas where our broader missions can benefit.”
The EU Naval Force and Chinese Navy are planning to conduct a counter piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden later this year.
Press Release, June 27, 2013; Image: EUNAVFOR