Ahead of Chinese President Xi’s visit to the European Union in Brussels, a significant naval exercise has taken place in the Gulf of Aden to demonstrate the growing cooperation between the EU and China on issues of international security and defence.
EU Naval Force warships, FS Siroco and FGS Hessen conducted a joint counter-piracy exercise with two Chinese Navy ships, CNS Yancheng and CNS Taihu. The exercise, which took place at sea in the Gulf of Aden, had followed a day of pre-briefings on board FS Siroco, when the EU Force Commander, Rear Admiral Herve Blejean, welcomed Senior Captain Li Pengcheng and the rest of the Chinese delegation to the EU Naval Force flagship to discuss the exercise and the various events that would take place the following day.
With military helicopters hovering overhead, the exercise began with the EU and Chinese warships manoeuvring close to each other to simulate a refuelling at sea operation. Members of the ships’ crews then transferred across to each other’s ships to conduct a series of practical demonstrations and exercises.
The exercises included a joint counter-piracy boarding operation, with the Chinese and EU Naval Force boarding teams embarking onto the Chinese logistics ship, CNS Taihu. Small-arms and helicopter exercises were also carried out.
The busy day ended just before sunset, with the ships bidding a warm farewell to each other with a traditional warship ‘sail past’.
Speaking about the joint exercise, Rear Admiral Blejean said “The last two days have been incredibly busy and rewarding. It was a pleasure to welcome Senior Captain Li Pengcheng and his Chinese delegation on board FS Siroco to discuss how we can continue to work together in the fight against piracy. Mutual cooperation and coordination between military naval forces has been key in reducing the number of pirate attacks. What is clear from discussions we have had today is that both the EU Naval Force and the Chinese Navy remain committed to keeping the seas safer for all seafarers.”
Senior Captain Li Pengcheng commented “The exercise helped to deepen EU-China friendships, cooperation and common understanding, and contributed to the maintenance of regional and world stability.”
Press Release, March 31, 2014; Image: EU NAVFOR