China Defense Blog is reporting the Chinese Coast Guard is getting at least one cutter based on the same hull used for the Type 054 frigate. I have to believe there will be several more.
The Type 054 is a large and apparently successful class of frigate. The ships are only slightly smaller than the Bertholf class, displacement 4,053 tons full load, length 134.1 m (440 ft), beam 16 m (52 ft), 30,400 HP, 27 knots, compared to the Bertholf’s 4,500 tons, 127.4 m (418 ft), 16.46 m (54 ft), 49,875 HP, and 28 knots.
My first reaction is that they should make very good cutters. They have a four diesel power plant that should be economical to operate and very flexible. The frigates reportedly have a range of over 8,000 miles. They also have reasonably good aviation facilities.
US Navy photo: 120917-N-YF306-107 GULF OF ADEN (Sept. 17, 2012) Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) board the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy) frigate Yi Yang (FF 548) to meet prior to conducting a bilateral counter-piracy exercise.
The Chinese Coast Guard has been experiencing explosive growth. China has built some huge cutters, they have gotten some hand-me-down frigates from their navy, and there have been reports that the China Coast Guard will be getting ships based on the Type 056 Corvette, but until recently, new construction Chinese cutters were not warships. They looked more like research vessels. Most have been armed with nothing heavier than 14.5 mm machine guns. This ship may mark a change.
Building based on a Navy design assures that should the need arise, these ships can be upgraded to a more combat ready configuration. How they are equipped when commissioned will give us an indication of the future direction of the Chinese Coast Guard. Will it remain essentially civilian, or will it become an increasingly capable naval auxiliary?
Which systems will be retained from the frigate configuration, and which systems are deleted? My guess is, that they will emerge with a medium caliber gun (either the 76 mm being currently fitted to the Navy’s Type 054As or the older 100 mm that was fitted on the original Type 054s) and two 30 mm gatling guns (these may be older model AK-630s rather than the newer CIWS fitted on current Navy Type 054As). I don’t expect to see the Vertical Launch Systems that support AAW and ASW systems, Anti-Ship Cruise missiles, torpedo tubes, or the sonars which are being fitted to the Navy versions, but if any of these are fitted, it will mark a drastic change in the character of the Chinese Coast Guard.
Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.