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Cool under fire, captain leads by example

Updated: 2015-09-03 07:20
By XIE CHUANJIAO (China Daily)

Ship's commander proves importance of paying attention to the little details

Cool under fire, captain leads by example

Gao Ke, captain of the missile frigate Linyi. CHINA DAILY

It was 6 am one day in July, and Gao Ke, captain of the missile frigate Linyi, rose from his bunk and began his routine daily inspection. A rusted screw was spotted behind a gangway door and he ordered it to be replaced immediately.

"Attention to detail is the most basic requirement for a navy soldier," the 39-year-old said.

After a long voyage, the Linyi had returned to its home port in Qingdao, headquarters of China's North Sea Fleet.

The next day, Gao led his crew into a new battle against Typhoon Chan-hom.

Since January, the Linyi has participated in a number of high-profile missions, including evacuating citizens from conflict-ridden Yemen, joining the 19th Escort Navy Fleet in the Gulf of Aden and conducting joint drills with the Russian navy in the Mediterranean.

On Jan 20, extremist Houthi rebels swept Yemen's presidential palace. The country had been suffering unrest and clashes between the rebels and forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the country.

The Linyi was dozens of miles off the coast of Yemen, escorting Chinese merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden.

Gao sensed the crisis and began to draw up evacuation plans with fellow captains. On March 26, they received the order to evacuate Chinese people from the port of Aden, where the US missile destroyer Cole was attacked by al-Qaida suicide boats in October 2000.

Fully aware of the danger, Gao laid out emergency plans covering logistics, weapons and defense. He also ordered several drills to address a number of special scenarios.

With unidentified armed boats flitting around in the nearby sea, and the sounds of gunfire and heavy shelling ringing out, the crew moored the boat to a berth at 6:45 pm on March 29. Four kilometers away, an airport was bombarded, and a heavy trail of smoke shot into the sky. In front of the ship, a stray bullet struck a tower crane on the dock.

Gao directed the evacuation while watching every move at the port and assessing the battle in the city. Within 39 minutes, 124 people went aboard, passing through security checks. Then the frigate left for Djibouti Harbor.

The Linyi entered Yemen to pick up evacuees twice more over the next eight days. A total of 163 Chinese and 269 foreign nationals from 13 countries were moved out of the war zone.

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