Seamen on comprehensive supply ship Weishanhu: We are not going home this Spring Festival

China Military Online
Chen Zhuo
2020-01-22 14:39:26

By Li Yun

KARACHI, Pakistan, Jan. 15 -- Yang Zhen, a seaman on Chinese naval supply ship Weishanhu, became a dad of a baby boy 20 days after they set sail.

"Both mother and baby are safe. The baby weighs 3.3 kg." Yang Zhen's family struggled to pass the news to him on January 12. The broadcasting station on the warship quickly made a greeting message and reported the good news to all officers and soldiers at suppertime: We have the first baby born during this round of escort mission!

At that time, Yang Zhen and his ship, the comprehensive supply ship Weishanhu, were in the North Arabian Sea for the Sea Guardians-2020 China-Pakistan joint naval exercise.

As an ocean-going comprehensive supply ship that has undertaken eight escort missions, the Weishanhu has set more than 20 records in performing escort missions in the history of the Chinese PLA Navy, including the most escort tasks executed, the most escorted merchant ships, and the furthest cumulative voyage.

If another record is to be added, it is estimated that the Weishanhu is also the warship with the most "escort babies".

The Weishanhu immediately joined the 34th escort taskforce heading for the Gulf of Aden to replace the 33rd escort taskforce after the Sea Guardians 2020 joint drill wrapped up on January 14. According to the schedule, the day the 34th escort taskforce arrive in the Gulf of Aden is almost exactly the eve of the Chinese New Year.

First-class master sergeant Fu Guanghai was quite hesitant before the mission. His son will sit for the college entrance exam this year. Because Fu seldom has time to stay with his son, the relationship between the father and the son is weak. If he is absent during his son’s college entrance examination, he might be blamed all his life.

As the most skilled in the mechanical and electrical department on the ship, Fu joined the escort mission at last. Fu had made great contributions and fixed problems in time in the previous escort missions. Experienced soldiers are mainstays on warships and everyone is at ease as long as they are around.

Wang Jie, an engineer at the supply department, is also an experienced soldier and has participated in eight escort missions, spending over 1,200 days on the Gulf of Aden, accounting for almost a quarter of his military career. For Wang, the most impressive thing was that when carrying out the first escort mission, many officers and soldiers were not sure about the ocean-going mission. "They only knew that they would combat pirates," Wang Jie said. But they had no idea how long the task would be or how to deal with emergencies.

Wang Jie's experience echoes the process of the Chinese Navy as it crosses the island chains and reaches the deep blue oceans. The questions in the mind of Wang Jie and his buddies when embarking on their first ocean-going voyage have long gone. The supply department he is in has carried out replenishment operations totaling 286 times/ships at sea and accumulated rich experience.

"The working process and equipment will be renovated and upgraded after returning from each escort mission," said Wang.

The Weishanhu has completed 135 batches of escort missions for 976 merchant ships.

Luo Xiangsheng, leader of a squad in charge of the liquid cargo supply operation, has also participated in the eight escort missions with the Weishanhu, remembers that each person had a limited daily supply of freshwater at the beginning. "Now, we have desalination equipment and no longer worry about freshwater supply," said Luo.

Not only freshwater is guaranteed, waste sorting is also well established, separate trash cans are located in each compartment.

The Weishanhu keeps welcoming new crews every year. In 2014, the ship saw the first batch of female soldiers. The eight girls brought vitality to the boring voyage life and boys no longer needed to dress like girls in a gala evening on board. Among the eight girls, five have chosen to stay on the ship after two years of compulsory military service.

The steerer Chen Lixue is one of the five female soldiers who chose extension of service on the Weishanhu. She has participated in escort tasks in the Gulf of Aden and the overseas Chinese evacuation operation in Yemen. In addition to nighttime watches in the cockpit, Chen also acts as part-time announcer at the radio station on the ship. During this joint naval exercise, the female soldiers performed tea ceremony and dance for Chinese and foreign guests at the deck reception.

Lieutenant Liu Xinyi is a newcomer, she was assigned to the Weishanhu after graduating from PLA Dalian Naval Academy in July 2019. It was the first time for the girl to have an ocean-going voyage and participate in a joint drill in a foreign country, she was a little bit excited. "Maybe I will still miss home and my parents," said Liu.


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