Navy recognition is reporting that all four type 053H2G frigates (NATO designation Jiangwei I) have been transferred to the Chinese Coast Guard, contributing to the already feverish build up of this service. These 115 meter (376 foot), 2,200 ton, 27 knot, helo deck and hangar equipped, diesel powered ships entered service with the Chinese Navy (PLAN) between 1991 and 1994, so while far from new, by USCC standards, they should have considerable life remaining. The design seems quite appropriate for a cutter.
The fact that the PLAN is willing to give up these ships suggest both the pace of modernization of the PLAN and the priority given to bulking up their Coast Guard.
The conversion apparently results in the removal of all the primary weapons including a twin 100mm gun, anti-air and anti-surface missiles, and anti-submarine weapons.
But the ships will not be unarmed, and how they are armed may suggest how Chinese Coast Guard vessels, which were essentially unarmed in the past, may be armed in the future.
The guns that remain are four twin 37mm type 76A mounts. Positioned as they are, this will allow at least two twin mounts to be pointed at any direction, and in perhaps most cases three twin mounts. The projectile weight is about 1.6 pounds; rate of fire is 375 rounds/minute/barrel. They have a range of 9,400 meters and an effective range of 3,500 meters, with a 1600 round ready service capacity at each twin mount.
While these weapons are obviously limited in range, at close quarters they would be extremely dangerous.
In an earlier post I used the weight of projectiles a ship could shoot per minute as one measure of the possible effectiveness of a weapon system. By that measure four 37mm firing 375 one-point-six pound projectiles per minute would mean the capability of firing 2400 pounds of projectiles per minute. This is more than a single 57mm Mk110 (1160 pounds), a 76mm Mk75 (1120 pounds), or even a 5″/62 Mk45 mod4 (1400 pounds).
Why did they retain all four mounts? It would not have been hard to remove two of the four mounts and still retain, what many would see as more than adequate law enforcement firepower, but we probably should not read too much into the retention of all four mounts; it was the easier option, and they may be seen as nothing more than on board spares. They certainly have retained a fierce capability to engage at anything less than 4,000 yards. I would not mind seeing similar redundancy on USCG cutters for our peacetime missions..
The deletion of the ASW equipment certainly suggest the new, more militarized, Chinese Coast Guard does not see itself as ASW capable, and the removal of the 100mm guns suggest they don’t expect to be used as a Naval Gun Fire Support asset.