A Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fleet has set off from a military port in east China’s Qingdao City for regular open-sea training in the West Pacific Ocean, military sources revealed Wednesday.
The fleet departed Tuesday morning and comprises three ships — the missile destroyer Qingdao and the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng — carrying three helicopters, all from the North China Sea Fleet under the PLA Navy.
During the voyage, the fleet is scheduled to conduct multi-program training sessions in the sea area where China has been carrying out regular patrols, according to the sources.
Tian Zhong, the fleet commander, said in an interview with Xinhua that conducting training in international waters is normal practice among various navies around the world, as well as part of China’s regular efforts to improve the PLA Navy’s combat capabilities.
The fleet aims to boost its capabilities in carrying out diversified military missions through the open-sea training, according to Tian.
The fleet will conduct more than 20 types of exercises, including maritime confrontation, open-sea mobile combat, law enforcement missions and open-sea naval commanding.
The training area will include the Yellow, East China and South China seas, the Miyako Strait, the Bashi Channel and the sea area east of Taiwan.
As part of the ongoing open-sea training, the fleet held a four-hour maritime confrontation drill in the Yellow Sea on Tuesday with another PLA Navy fleet set to depart for escort missions in sea areas off Somalia.
The missile destroyer Qingdao and the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng are all domestically-produced capital ships of the PLA Navy.
The Qingdao, which is among China’s second-generation missile destroyers, was commissioned in 1993 and has taken part in more than 50 key missions, including escort missions in the Gulf of Aden. It has a displacement of 4,800 tonnes.
In 2002, as a commanding ship of a Chinese fleet, the vessel completed the PLA Navy’s first global voyage.
The Yantai and Yancheng, among China’s newest type of missile frigates, were commissioned by the North China Sea Fleet in 2011 and 2012, respectively. They both have a displacement of 4,050 tonnes.
Also on Wednesday, the defense ministry announced in a statement that a Chinese navy fleet will conduct a training exercise in the Pacific after sailing through the island chain.
The statement from the ministry’s information office said it is a regular arrangement in line with the navy’s annual training plan, adding that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted seven similar training exercises last year.