Navy storms hijacked tankers, cargo ships in Red Sea
On Saturday night the oil tanker Al Heera sailing off the coast of Yemen came under attack from pirates in multiple small craft. A distress call was issued and picked up by the Chinese naval frigate Hengyang.
An armed helicopter was dispatched to land assistance and managed to drive the pirates away, according to a release from the People's Liberation Arm, which has its 25th convoy fleet stationed in the Red Sea to aid merchant shipping.
The incident came just days after the Chinese navy stormed a freighter that had been hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The missile frigate Yulin was involved in that mission, which saw it send in 16 special forces to the Tuvaluan freighter OS35 to rescue 19 crew members.
"The rescue operations demonstrate the effectiveness of the Chinese naval forces," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing.
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Chinese naval convoys first began their missions in Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia on January 2009. Since then, China has sent 26 convoys through, with the latest one leaving April 1.
Chinese convoys since have escorted 6,337 ships, including 3,274 ships from other countries and international organizations such as the World Food Programme.
They also rescued or aided more than 60 Chinese and foreign ships in the region from local pirates, according to the defense ministry.