The U.S. and China conducted two days of counter piracy drills in the Gulf of Aden in a rare show of military cooperation, following last week’s visit of the head of the Chinese Ministry of Defense.
Guided missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87), Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Luhu-class destroyer Harbin and oiler Weishanhu participated in training that included visit, boarding, search and seizure (VBSS) techniques, live fire drills and helicopter landings.
The drills were conducted to enhance maritime security on the piracy prone waters near Somalia, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy.
Harbin and Weishanhu are part of China’s 14th mission to help police piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
“The U.S. Navy and [PLAN] serving legitimate mariners’ access to, and secure use of, the maritime domain by deterring, disrupting and suppressing piracy,” Vice Adm. John Miller, commander of U.S. 5th Fleet, said in a statement. ”
“Both regional and global security environments call for practical cooperation between navies, and this exercise demonstrates a cooperative effort by the U.S. and China to address common maritime security challenges.”
Chinese state-run media outlet Xinhuanet wrote the exercise was a “sign of improved Sino-US military relations followed the return of Defense Minister Chang Wanquan.”
The drills included the first landing qualification of a U.S. Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter on a PLAN ship and the first landing of a Harbin Z-9C on a U.S. ship, according to the statement from 5th Fleet.
The August drills follow a year after PLAN and U.S. ships conducted initial counter piracy exercises with USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) and frigate Yi Yang in September 2012.
Next year PLAN ships are scheduled to participate for the first time — at U.S. invitation — as part of the the Rim of the Pacific 2014 exercises off the coast of Hawaii.