The Chinese navy on Tuesday started a large-scale, far-reaching patrol-training mission to the South China Sea and Western Pacific Ocean.
The mission will be mainly conducted by four battleships from the South Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army navy - amphibian landing craft Jinggangshan, missile destroyer Lanzhou, missile frigates Yulin and Hengshui, and a number of aircraft, according to naval officials.
The fleet will be divided into three battle groups during several phases of the training and perform drills around waters in the South China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean.
The mission aims to improve the Chinese navy's combat capabilities, protection of marine interests, high seas escort and emergency response fields, naval officials said, adding that it is an annual routine exercise of the South Sea Fleet.
"This training is intended to effectively strengthen our fleet's ability to conduct diversified military missions by mobilizing and engaging units of the fleet in a host of exercises that simulate actual combat situations," said Lieutenant Admiral Jiang Weilie, commander of the South Sea Fleet.
The Jinggangshan is the Chinese navy's largest landing vessel, and it is equipped with an advanced weapon system. The destroyer Lanzhou and frigate Yulin have participated in escort missions in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden and waters off the eastern African country of Somalia.
The Hengshui is a new type of missile frigate that was recently commissioned to the PLA navy.
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