China wants to build the world’s biggest marine surveillance ship with a full displacement of 10,000 tonnes, state media has reported.
If the giant ship is built, China will surpass Japan to possess the world’s largest marine vessel.
Both the Beijing Times and the Global Times on Monday cited reports from the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), one of the country’s two shipbuilding giants, as saying that the company’s subsidiary Shanghai Marine Equipment Research Institute, or 704 Institute, had signed a 280 million yuan (HK$356 million) contract with related authorities late last year.
The contract would include a 10,000-tonne patrol ship and a 4,000-tonne marine surveillance vessel, according to reports. But there was no detail on whether the new giant vessel would be equipped with remote weapon systems similar to Japan Coast Guard’s “Shikishima” (PLH 31), which is currently the largest patrol vessel in the world.
The largest model of “Shikishima” has about 7,175 tonnes of full displacement, while China’s existing biggest patrol vessel “Haijian 50” has 4,000 tonnes.
The Haijian, which was also built by the CSSC and delivered to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) in 2011, patrols in the East China Sea, where China has territory disputes with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, also known as Senkaku in Japan.
Early reports posted on the website of CSSC said the 704 research institution had spent more than a year researching and developing a new 10,000-tonne vessel, with the experimental simulation of the building of a clutch rack for the giant ship completed recently.
Beijing announced that it has 27 patrol ships with at least 1,000 tonnes patrolling disputed waters in the East and South China seas, with some being equipped with light weapons and helicopters. Another 36 big vessels have been under construction since 2012, according to an early Xinhua report.
The SOA has increased surveillance in recent years by sending maritime patrol ships led by the biggest Haijian 50, its sister ship Haijian 83, and Haijian 66, its fastest surveillance vessel, to patrol near the Diaoyu waters since the Japanese government took ownership of two Diaoyu Islands from former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara in September 2012.