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China sent first time its fleet for an "out of area" mission, at Somalian coast, a mission that could involve fighting beyond its territorial waters. This was China's first overseas naval deployment in 600 years. The Chinese naval fleet - armed with special forces, guided missiles and helicopters - set sail on Friday for anti-piracy duty off Somalia.

Decorated with colored ribbons and flowers, the three warships
- two destroyers
> Navy's DDG-171 Haikou destroyer (Type 052C destroyer, first warship in the People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force to have true long-range fleet air defence capability, launched on 30 October 2003. Previous Chinese ships used derivatives of the French Thomson-CSF TAVITAC. The Type 052C may use an improved system to better engage anti-ship missiles. The main gun is a Type 210 100 mm naval gun, derived from the French Creusot-Loire T100C.)
> Navy's DDG-169 Wuhan destroyer (Guangzhou-class destroyer, first Chinese-built warship capable of area air defence)

- and a supply vessel :
> Navy's supply ship Weishanhu
from the People's Liberation Army Navy - were unmoored at the military port by crew members in white naval uniforms.

The fleet will carry about 800 crew members, including 70 soldiers from the navy's special force.The current expedition aims to guard civilian ships from attacks by Somali pirates. A surge in attacks at sea this year in the busy Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off Somalia has pushed up insurance costs, brought the Somali gangs tens of millions of dollars in ransom and led to the dispatching of foreign warships to the area.