PIRAEUS, Greece — The 18th Chinese naval escort fleet arrived in the Greek port of Piraeus on the morning of Feb 16, commencing a four-day goodwill visit after such visits to Greece in 2002 and 2010.
Rear Admiral George Leventis, the superintendent of the Hellenic Naval Academy, along with a Guard of Honour from the Hellenic Navy, held a welcome ceremony for the Chinese fleet. More than 300 Chinese, led by Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli, greeted the arrival of the fleet.
During the visit, Rear Admiral Zhang Chuanshu, who is the Fleet Commander and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the South China Sea fleet, is scheduled to meet with Greek political heavyweights such as President Karolos Papoulias and the Hellenic Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.
The guests will hold a reception commemorating the Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, on the deck of amphibious landing ship Changbaishan during the visit.
The Chinese fleet is also scheduled to brief on the Chinese Navy’s escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia. The Greek navy is expected to organize a visit aboard the vessel and have a friendly basketball game with Chinese naval officers and sailors.
Greece is the fifth and final stop of the 18th Chinese naval escort fleet’s five-nation European tour, with the fleet previously visiting Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and France.
After the conclusion of the visit, the Chinese fleet will embark on a joint military drill with the Hellenic Navy before setting sail on the voyage home.