The Chinese Navy has deployed a fresh batch of warships to the Gulf of Aden to escort merchant vessels and protect them from pirate attacks.

The movement comes after Chinese coal-carrying vessel De Xin Hai was seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean north-east of the Seychelles last week.

Two missile frigates will replace the radar-evading hulled frigates FFG-529 Zhoushan and FFG-530 Xuzhou, which are currently patrolling pirate-ridden shipping lanes in the region.

A supply ship, the Qiandaohu which has been operating for three months in the Gulf will also join the convoy.

Over 700 crew including a special forces unit will be included in the convoy along with two shipborne helicopters.

The current deployment is the fourth by the Chinese Navy in the Gulf of Aden since the end of 2008.