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Chinese Navy Makes Rare San Diego Visit Sunday

Above: Aerial view of the multinational navy ships participating in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific naval exercise near the Hawaiian Islands.

Three Chinese navy ships will arrive Sunday afternoon at Naval Base San Diego for a rare visit, following their debut in the world’s largest maritime military exercise.

Fresh from the Rim of the Pacific exercise, the Chinese ships Haikou, Yueyang and Qiandaohu will dock in San Diego Bay.

Known as the RIMPAC exercise, it involves more than 22 nations, 49 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and about 25,000 service members. This is the first year the Chinese have participated in the massive international military training, though members of China's navy have previously been observers. RIMPAC began in 1971 with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

This is not the first time the Chinese navy has come to San Diego, but visits like this are uncommon, said Navy spokeswoman Maile Baca.

A welcome party is planned when the ships arrive. Along with admirals delivering speeches, the festivities will include traditional Chinese lion dancers.

While the Chinese navy ships are here, the USS Blue Ridge is in Qingdao, China. The visits are part of a reciprocal port visit program the Navy arranged with China to coincide with the RIMPAC exercise.

The Chinese ships will stay in San Diego for a few days before returning to China next week.

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