China has sent a submarine to the Gulf of Aden to help in counter piracy operations — a first for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) submarine fleet, according to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense. In a press briefing last week, ministry spokesman Col. Geng Yansheng confirmed a PLAN submarine was headed off the coast of Somalia to join a Chinese task force effort to piracy in the region.

News of the submarine emerged earlier this month when what appeared to be a Song-class diesel attack submarine (SSK) took on fuel and provisions in Sri Lanka from Sept. 7 to 14, raising questions if China was expanding submarine operations into the Indian Ocean.

“What needs to be pointed out is that it is a common practice for navies of all countries to have their submarines and ships replenished at certain intervals at ports,” Geng said. […]