Chinese Crew Fights Off Pirates
From the Times Online website with thanks to FOARP: Chinese Crew Used Beer Bottles To Fight Off Pirates
The crew of a Chinese ship have described how they used beer bottles and water cannon to fend off a pirate attack off the Somali coast before they were rescued.
Zhenua 4 was one of four vessels seized by pirates on Wednesday, shortly after the UN Security Council authorised countries to pursue the renegades by land and air.
Nine pirates armed with rocket launchers and machineguns boarded the ship, Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news agency, reported.
The vessel’s thirty crew members fought for four hours with home-made firebombs and beer bottles, an official with the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre said.
The pirates abandoned their attempt to take the ship when a multilateral force, including a warship and two helicopters, arrived after the crew had locked themselves in their cabins and radioed for help.
“Seven of the nine pirates landed on our ship, all with weapons,” Peng Weiyuan, the captain of Zhenhua 4, said in a telephone interview with China Central Television.
“Our crew, who had been well trained and prepared, used water cannon, self-made incendiary bombs, beer bottles and anything else that could be used to battle with them.
“Thirty minutes later, the pirates gestured to us for a ceasefire,” he added. “Then the helicopter from the joint fleet came to help us.”
The reports from the Chinese crew come as Beijing said that it would send a warship to the Gulf of Aden to join international efforts to curb the pirates.
The Chinese announcement that it would join the fight against piracy was greeted enthusiastically by the head of America’s Pacific Command.
Admiral Timothy Keating said it would lead to a revival in military relations between China and the United States.
“I hope the Chinese do [send ships to the Gulf of Aden] and we’ll work closely with them,” Admiral Keating told reporters.
“I think this could be a spring-board for a resumption of dialogue between PLA \ forces and US Pacific Command forces,” he said.
China is about to engage in their first active deployment beyond the Pacific Ocean: China Navy Set For Somalia Mission
Three Chinese warships will leave port later this week to join a growing international anti-piracy force off the coast of Somalia, Chinese officials have said.
Two destroyers and an accompanying supply vessel will set sail on Friday from their base on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, Huang Xueping, a defence ministry spokesman, told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.
He said the deployment would help to protect Chinese ships transiting the area, but also that the Chinese navy was willing to work with others battling pirates in the region, including warships the US, Russia and the European Union.
Piracy off the Horn of Africa has taken an increasing toll on international shipping, especially in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
This year more than 40 vessels have been hijacked off the Somali coast, with pirates taking an estimated $30m in ransom payments.
Last week Chinese foreign ministry officials said about 20 per cent of Chinese ships travelling through the area had come under attack.
Although China has a huge global commercial maritime presence, the deployment of the three warships will be China’s first major naval operation abroad.
Until now the Chinese navy has primarily focused on defending the country’s coastline, limiting operations abroad to port calls, goodwill visits and exercises with other navies.
But with China’s growing global clout there have been calls for Beijing to take a greater role in international security affairs.
However, a senior Chinese military official played down the significance of the Somalia mission, saying the deployment did not show any major shift in policy.
“This is only an escorting operation to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters,” Senior Captain Ma Luping, director of the Navy Bureau of the General Staff Headquarters Operations Department, said.
“It does not indicate any change in the strategy of the Chinese military.”
This is actually the first deployment of the Chinese Navy in foreign waters since the days of Zheng He’s treasure fleet in the mid 1400s. I feel it represents a new chapter in China’s continued progress as a modern power and is a very welcome development.
Kudos to the Chinese merchant sailors! They used whatever means were at their disposal to fight off a pirate attack, and were able to foil the incursion. Using beer bottles to keep the pirates at bay? Those are my kind of guys! They adapted to the situation with whatever means were available and kept cool heads during a terrifying ordeal. They are heroes in my book.
Back in WWII, cargo ships were given cannon and machine guns to protect themselves and the strategy proved quite successful. Along with naval escorts, is it time to revive this policy? I’m sure this Chinese crew would have taken on the pirate ship with gusto if those weapons were available.
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