Chinese Navy's destroyer Suzhou escorts merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden

According to information published by Chinamil on July 14, 2022, the 41st Chinese naval escort taskforce escorted six merchant ships to the western part of the Gulf of Aden in succession.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Chinese Type 052L destroyer Suzhou (Picture source: Chinamil)

After the arrival at the gathering point in the eastern Gulf of Aden, the escorted merchant ships Heilan Journey and Eemslift Nelli set sail with the PLA Navy’s guided-missile destroyer Suzhou (Hull 132), which was attached to the 41st Chinese naval escort taskforce, towards the predetermined waters as scheduled.

After more than 600 nautical miles’ voyage, the ships reached the all-clear area in the western Gulf of Aden, and the naval task force returned to the gathering point in the eastern Gulf of Aden as planned to continue the following tasks of escorting merchant ships Darlene, Nasco Jade, Heilan Song and Horn of Harmony, to the designated sea area.

To ensure the security of the escorted merchant ships, the Chinese naval task force, in light of recent local sea conditions, kept vigilance and anti-terrorism and anti-piracy deployment all the trip.

They used ship-borne radar, electronic reconnaissance equipment, and photoelectric detection equipment to observe and search for small targets at close range at sea. The helicopters were also on standby throughout the whole process. Meanwhile, the task force kept real-time communication with the escorted ships regularly.

According to Huang Hua, chief of staff of the task force, the escorting mission serves as a test of the task force’s ability to perform military operations other than war (MOOTW). The task force will maintain sharp vigilance to ensure that various emergencies are to be handled prudently.

About the guided-missile destroyer Suzhou

Suzhou (132) is a Type 052DL destroyer of the People's Liberation Army Navy. Suzhou was launched on 19 December 2018 at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai. She was commissioned in 2020.

The guided-missile destroyer Suzhou has a length of 161 m (528 ft), a beam of 17.5 m (57 ft), and a draught of 6 m (20 ft). She can displace 7,500 tons and reach a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph).

The close-in weapon system is composed of a H/PJ-12 short-range defense weapon system located in front of the bridge and a 24 Hongqi-10 air defense missile system located on the top of the hangar, which is combined to form a ladder interception.

The original 100mm naval gun was replaced by a higher height and better stealth model H/PJ45 naval gun. The hull of the 052DL is basically the same as the 052D, but the helicopter deck is lengthened to prepare for the Zhi-20 to board the ship.