The "Qingdao" guided missile destroyer and the "Taicang" comprehensive replenishment ship on their global voyage (PLA DAily/Qian Xiaohu)
Upon the approval of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, two Chinese naval ships, the "Qingdao" guided missile destroyer and the "Taicang" comprehensive replenishment ship, set sailing from the Qingdao Naval Port on May 15, 2002 to start the maiden global navigation of the Chinese Navy.
The Chinese naval ships crossed 15 world famous straits and water channels including the Straits of Malacca, the Straits of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, sailing in 22 major sea areas and gulfs including the Red Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. In the round-the-world voyage, the two Chinese navy ships crossed the equator for 6 times with a span of 68 latitudes and paid visits in turn to 10 ports in 10 countries, i.e. Changi of Singapore, Alexandria of Egypt, Aksis of Turkey, Sevastopol of Ukraine, Peiraievs of Greece, Lisbon of Portugal, Fortaleza of Brazil, Guayaquil of Ecuador, Callao of Peru and Papeete of French Polynesia with a total voyage of 33,000 sea miles.
The "Qingdao" guided missile destroyer and the "Taicang" comprehensive replenishment ship returned to Qingdao on Sept. 23. This maiden round-the-world sailing created several records in Chinese Navy's history of out-going visit missions with its longest duration, the farthest voyage, the vastest sea area reached and the biggest number of countries visited.
Taking the opportunity of sailing in the high sea, the "Qingdao" guided missile destroyer conducted hundreds of drillings of different subjects including ship-aircraft coordinative antisubmarine drill, ship-aircraft joint search and rescue, water-to-air missile launching, air missile and secondary gun anti-missile drill, anti-pirate drill and terrorist attack prevention and defense drill.
Before leaving the Papeete Harbor in French Polynesia, "Qingdao" and "Taicang" took part in a joint military exercise with French guided missile destroyers "Prairial" and "Nivose" upon invitation of the French Navy. Before this joint drill, "Qingdao" and "Taicang" and Peruvian Navy already had a joint exercise in the Pacific Ocean. Both the drills, without schedules in advance and being conducted by request of the other side, showcased the self-confidence of Chinese Navy before the navies of other countries in the world.
The sailing around the world by Chinese naval ships was a voyage of spreading friendship and peace with the 506 officers and men acting as the goodwill envoys of Chinese people. They were warmly received by the local people and their foreign counterparts. The Singaporean naval officers and men met them at the pier amid downpour. Children from kindergartens of Ukraine waved Chinese national flags and cheered the visiting Chinese naval servicemen and their ships. In Greece, Chinese naval troops visited the warships preparing for review of the Greek president, which had been particularly transferred by the Greek Navy from the anchorage back to the port. Brazil, Ecuador and Peru welcomed the Chinese naval ships with 21 fires of saluting guns. In French Polynesia, local people in festive costumes presented rings of flowers to the visiting Chinese naval troops. Li Yujie, the then captain of the "Qingdao" guided missile destroyer has been cherishing these wonderful memories in his mind.
"We could have the success of the first round-the-world voyage just because we had the support of a powerful motherland. Glory belongs to our motherland," said Li Yujie.