China’s Massive Coast Guard Ships

China's military continues to grow and so do its ships. New Chinese Coast Guard cutters could displace over 10,000 tons.

china, shipbuilding, coast guard, militaryAll aspects of the Chinese military have been experiencing tremendous growth over the last decade. While fighter jets, aircraft carriers, drones and armored vehicles have drawn many of the headlines, the world’s most populous nation is also building up its Coast Guard fleet.

According to a recent article in Jane’s, China’s Coast Guard is in the process of building a series of cutters that will displace some 10,000 tons. To put that in perspective, the largest vessels currently operated by the Chinese military displace some 4,000 tons, while the US Coast Guard’s largest open ocean ship only bests the Chinese crafts by a mere 500 tons.

While displacement is one way to measure a ship, a better metric might be its effectiveness at heading off enemy targets. To achieve that feat China’s newest vessels will supposedly be able to reach a clip of 25 knots while carrying two anti-aircraft guns, a 76mm cannon and two additional 30mm guns. Beyond those armaments, the new vessels will be supported by two Z-8 helicopters capable of ferrying goods and servicemen about the craft.

So, why would China want such a ship? Is there really anyone looking to test its resolve to defend its borders? One possible explanation is that this Coast Guard ship is less concerned with patrolling the Chinese mainland as it is with cordoning off disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Over the past few years China, Taiwan and Japan have escalated their tug of war over who controls the South China Sea. Long known as a vital shipping lane, China has even gone so far as to build islands so that they can claim sovereignty, or at least project military power, well beyond mainland Asia.

Could China’s new ship be another way to secure its ever-growing archipelago of engineered islands? I wouldn’t bet against it. But putting geo-politics aside, China’s new ship is an impressive behemoth that should impress any nautical engineer or shipbuilding hobbyist; regardless of the flag it flies.

Source: IHS Jane’s 360