Thai, Chinese navies join for ‘Blue Strike’

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More than 500 Chinese naval forces and warships joined up with the Royal Thai Navy for a large-scale exercise to counter long-standing US ties to the Thai military.

The Changbaishan and two escort vessels from China are participating in the Blue Strike war games, which launched with a formal opening ceremony at Sattahip Naval Base May 21.

Admiral Naris Pratumsuwan, commander of the Navy Battle Squadron, and Rear Adm. Wang Hai, deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, preside over the opening ceremony for the Blue Strike war games.
Admiral Naris Pratumsuwan, commander of the Navy Battle Squadron, and Rear Adm. Wang Hai, deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, preside over the opening ceremony for the Blue Strike war games.

Admiral Naris Pratumsuwan, commander of the Navy Battle Squadron, and Rear Adm. Wang Hai, deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, presided over the May 21 ceremony outside the Marine Corps headquarters.

The exercise, which runs through June 10, covers preparations for assault, amphibious training, forest battles and survival, as well as a combined arms live-fire exercise and close-quarters battle.

While the exercise is held every two years, with Thailand last hosting in 2012, it has grown in size. Only 150 Chinese sailors attended four years ago.

The Blue Strike drill is the naval counterpart to the Falcon Strike drill held between the two countries’ air forces last year.