The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy hospital ship Peace Ark (Hull 866) arrived at the Port of La Guaira on Sept. 22 via the Panama Canal for an eight-day friendly visit to Venezuela.
This is the first visit of the Chinese naval vessels to Venezuela. Venezuela is the 38th country visited by the Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark.
The Peace Ark and the Venezuelan Navy patrol ship Yekuana (PC-23) hosted a ship rendezvous ceremony in the waters east of the Paraguaná Peninsula in the Caribbean at around 5 p.m. on September 21, local time.
Yekuana sent a welcome message via very high frequency (VHF): “On behalf of the constitutional leader Nicolás Maduro, I’d like to welcome you to Venezuela. Welcome to Hugo Chávez’s hometown to further deepen the friendship between China and Venezuela. Please follow me to the Port of La Guaira.”
Five K-8 trainers of the Venezuelan Air Force also performed a wonderful air show during the ceremony.
Guided by the Yekuana, the Peace Ark slowly arrived at the naval pier of the Port of La Guaira at around 10 a.m. on September 22. The Venezuelan side held a grand welcome ceremony at the port. Vladimir Padrino López, Vice-Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Defense Minister, led military and government officials to welcome the Chinese hospital ship at the dock.
In an interview, Vladimir Padrino López expressed warm welcome and heartfelt thanks to the Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark’s visit on behalf of the Venezuelan government, the armed forces and the people. He said that the visit highlights the friendship between the two peoples and it will also enhance the medical exchange and cooperation between the two countries. López said that the name of the hospital ship “Peace Ark” stands for a foreign policy claiming peace and cooperation. This should be a model of foreign policy for countries around the world today, said López.
The commander of “Mission Harmony 2018” said in his speech that the Peace Ark is loaded with the goodwill of the Chinese people. The Chinese hospital ship has traveled all the way from across the oceans to the beautiful country Venezuela to consolidate the traditional friendship between the two countries through practical actions. The Peace Ark aims to implement the important consensus reached in Beijing by the two heads of state with achievements in medical cooperation, and make new contributions to the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides.
During the visit, the commander of “Mission Harmony 2018” will call on the military and government officials of Venezuela and visit Venezuela’s military facilities and medical institutions. The two sides will carry out a series of activities such as joint medical care, academic exchanges, mutual ship visits and other cultural events.
It is learnt that the Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark set off from a military port in China’s Zhoushan on June 28 to carry out “Mission Harmony 2018”. Venezuela is its fifth stop.
Chen Zhuo/ China Military Online