The Diplomat reports on a documentary providing new incite into the aggressive tactics being employed by the Chinese Coast Guard in their disputes with their neighbors. Scary stuff, but apparently the aggressiveness starts at the top.
This is a post I prepared for CIMSEC. It reiterates material we’ve already discussed, but also adds some additional thoughts.
The China Defense Blog has three new posts with several photos of new Chinese Coast Guard Cutters.
The first is news of the award of a contract for four new 5,000 ton cutters. and while the text says they will be similar to an earlier 5,000 ton cutter (CMS01), the illustration that accompanies the story shows a very different ship, in many ways similar to the National Security Cutter. It appears there is a medium caliber gun on the bow. (This would be a significant but not unexpected change for the Chinese Coast Guard.) There is a frame over what appears to be a stern ramp not unlike that on the NSC. The hull shape also appears similar to the NSC.
The second post reports the commissioning of the second of two 4,000 cutters commissioned this month.
A third post asks, “What would a 12,000 ton Coast Guard Cutter Look Like?” reports as was reported here earlier, China’s intention to build the world’s largest Offshore Patrol Vessel. They don’t have any illustration of the new ship, but they do say it will have a 76mm gun, two 30mm, facilities to support two Z-8 helicopters, and a top speed of 25 knots.The size of the helicopters is notable. The Z-8 is a large, three engine, 13,000 kg helicopter based on the Aérospatiale SA 321 Super Frelon. The transport version of this helicopter can transport 38 equipped troops. The same airframe is also used for SAR, ASW, and vertical replenishment. The post also says it shows photos of new 3,000 ton cutters, but all the photos except those of hull number 3306 were referred to elsewhere as 4,000 ton cutters.
New hull numbers seen in this series of posts are 1401, 2401, 3401, 3306, and MSA-01). Unlike most earlier Chinese cutters, all of these ships have helicopter decks.
This is the fruition of their earlier stated ambition to build 36 cutters in three years for the Chinese Maritime Surveillance Agency (CMS, only one of four agencies that combined to form their Coast Guard).
German Navy blog “Marine Forum” reports (21 January) that the
China Ship-building Industry Corporation has been contracted with developing and building a 10,000-ton and another 4,000-ton surveillance ship.
(rmks: for paramilitary China Coast Guard or China Marine Surveillance)
Meanwhile, in a move designed to bolster their claims in the South China Sea, they also report,
With Vietnam: China will expand paramilitary infrastructure at Sansha City (Paracel Archipelago) in the South China Sea … permanently base a 5,000-ts patrol ship (rmks: prob. China Marine Surveillance – CMS) and begin regular patrols.
Don’t expect China’s new 10,000 ton cutter to look like a US Coast Guard Cutter. The Chinese seem to measure their Coast Guard primarily in comparison to the Japanese Coast Guard which has until now operated the largest cutters in the world, two 9,350 full load, Shikishima class high endurance helicopter carrying cutters. Like their Japanese counterparts, they are likely to be built to merchant standards, will be only lightly armed, but will have excellent aviation facilities. The additional tonnage is likely to give them an advantage if they get in a “shoving match” with opposing coast guards, and they are likely to have a secondary military transport role. With a relatively large number of boats, they could probably land a fair number of personnel in a relatively short time. By way of comparison the National Security Cutters are 4,500 tons full load.
Photo Credit: United States Navy with the ID 130629-N-YU572-530, by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh, PHILIPPINE SEA (June 29, 2013) The Philippine Coast Guard vessel Edsa (SARV 002), left, and the Philippine Navy frigate Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) steam in formation during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2013.
Global Post is reporting the Philippines is looking for two more “frigates” from the U. S. It is not clear they are referring to Hamilton Class Cutters, but it seems likely. Referring to the two WHECs they already have, the article states,
“The Philippines has already acquired two refurbished American frigates in the past two years, and they now lead patrols in the South China Sea.”
The request might conceivably refer to retiring Perry Class navy frigates, but that would introduce an additional set of systems to the Philippine Navy and the gas turbine powered FFG-7s are not as economical to operate as the normally diesel powered Hamiltons with their combined diesel or gas turbine (CODOG) power plant. The redundancy offered by the cutters’ four engine, two shaft power plant may also be seen as an advantage over the FFG-7’s two engine, single shaft propulsion.
China is again pushing for a “new norm” that would make the South China Sea essentially Chinese sovereign territory. In clear violation of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, the Province of Hainan has declared that, as of Jan. 1, all foreign vessels must get their permission to fish in approximately two thirds of the South China Sea including waters that are clearly within the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia, an area reportedly five times the size of the state of Texas.
Their likely instrument in this push is the newly organized Chinese Coast Guard. Naval War College professor James R. Holmes, offers some thoughts on “The Return of China’s Small Stick Diplomacy in South China Sea.”
First a Russian ship gets stuck in the ice. Now their rescuer, a Chinese Icebreaker gets stuck in the ice. It is making news everywhere. Wouldn’t it be a publicity coup for the Polar Star to come to the rescue of both?
German Navy blog Marine Forum has two reports on shipbuilding programs for the Chinese Coast Guard.
“Huangpu shipyard launches the second of four 4,000-ton China Coast Guard patrol ships, HAI JING 2401.” (reported 12 Sept)
“Xingang Shipyard (Tianjin) launches paramilitary China Marine Surveillance (CMS) 600-ton patrol vessel HAI JIAN 3012 … 14 such ships ordered/under construction, also at Wuhan.” (reported 9 Sept.)
You can be sure they are building them fast.
The Diplomat is reporting that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has acknowledged that they have begun to operate in the US EEZ off Guam and Hawaii (and presumably other US territory in the Western Pacific). This is actually seen as a positive step in that, by taking this step, China is recognizing that US Navy operations inside the Chinese EEZ are not illegal.
Still this means Coast Guard assets may encounter PLAN units, and as yet there is no counterpart to the INSEA (Incidents at Sea) agreement we had with the Soviet Union to minimize the chances for a misunderstanding.
A more aggressive, adventuresome, and far reaching PLAN might also be seen as a reason to consider reanimating the ASW mission in the Coast Guard.
Informationdissemination has a short report on the ongoing expansion of the fleets of China’s five law enforcement agencies. Several things stand out. This expansion is massive. The charts in the report may be difficult to read, but it is clear they are building at a furious rate while also taking in former Navy platforms. It is also clear that while some are very large, these are relatively simple and because of the low cost of ship building in China, very inexpensive ships.
These agencies still have relatively few aircraft so they will remain ship rich, aircraft poor.
China has apparently found their maritime law enforcement agencies useful in asserting control over disputed areas.
For reference while the US EEZ is 11,351,000 km2, China’s internationally recognized EEZ is only 877,019 km2 and they claim another approximately 3,000,000km2.