The HMS Exeter will engage in joint training exercises with the PLA next week The British destroyer HMS Exeter steamed into Hong Kong yesterday as part of a goodwill visit before preparing for a joint training exercise with the PLA. Commander Martin Durkin, who served in Hong Kong in the 1980s, said his crew was looking forward to some 'rest and recuperation' before heading north to the waters off Shanghai on Monday. The Exeter, one of Britain's air-defence warships, with 240 sailors, was recently engaged in training exercises with the Australian, New Zealand, Singaporean and Malaysian navies, Commander Durkin said. 'It is this ship's first visit to mainland China,' he said. 'We are here to visit this fantastic city before taking part in a joint search-and-rescue exercise with the Chinese navy next week. 'I understand they [the PLA] are very professional and very good,' he said. As part of the simulation, the British destroyer and People's Liberation Army warships from the North Sea Fleet will deploy helicopters and rescue craft to save injured sailors from a stricken vessel. The joint exercise is part of expanding co-operation by China with foreign navies after similar exercises with Pakistan, India and most recently France in April. The Exeter was commissioned in 1980 and has engaged in her primary role of anti-air warfare a number of times. It is the first time a British gunboat has visited Hong Kong since 2000. 'I am here to play rugby, see the sights, eat at the floating Jumbo restaurant, and maybe have a go on the trams,' said Leading Weapon Artificer Christian Key, on his first call to the city. Britain's naval and air attache to Beijing, Group Captain Keith Parkes, yesterday heralded the visit as significant. 'There are many memories for the British Navy in Hong Kong and there are a number of sailors [buried here] from the previous HMS Exeter, which was involved in battles during the world war,' Group Captain Parkes said.