China Shows 2nd Trimaran Rescue Ship

China Defense Mashup has posted pictures of a trimaran vessel purported to be the second of a class of rescue vesssels that look very much like smaller versions of the Independence class Littoral Combat Ships. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

It appears to have a helicopter landing deck, a small gun (25-40mm), and stations for making pickups at near the waterline on the outer hulls. Apparently these belong to the  Navy, rather than one of the five civilian agencies that do Coast Guard type work.

Building Coast Guard Ships–for China

We’ve discussed the rapid build-up of China’s coast guard like agencies particularly the Chinese Maritime Surveillance Agency (CMS) (here and here), . Here are pictures of the build-up underway. We have not had a scene like this in the US for over two decades.

The type 056 referred to is a new Chinese Navy corvette program that is being built in large numbers by four different shipyards. They are also expected to be used to enforce China’s sovereignty.

Conflict between Japan and Two Chinas coming to a Head?

Up to six Chinese law enforcement agency vessels, roughly analogous to Coast Guard Cutters, have entered the territorial waters of islands administered by Japan, and Japanese Coast Guard Cutters responded. It does not look like the disagreement is going to go away quietly. Anti-Japanese anger is being nurtured in China. Both China and Japan are preparing for a leadership change, and no one wants to look weak.


Illustration: from CIA map

A good summary of events is here. A second source indicates the Chinese have “1,000” fishing vessels en route.

“And, whether we like it or not, Washington is involved.

The Chinese have taken an additional step and filed a claim on the islands with the UN describing its interpretation of where the baselines are drawn and enacted a national law that,

“prohibits foreign warships and vessels from entering the waters around the Diaoyu Islands without permission from the Chinese government.”

This seems to reflect China’s broader interpretation of the ability of a state to restrict access to its EEZ.

If the situation were not complicated enough, don’t forget there is a third party here, who are also inserting themselves in the mix. Taiwan also claims these islands and have also sent their Coast Guard into the area.

Photos of some of the players here.

Chinese Patrol Vessel to Exercise with USCG in Hawaii

— The Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) cutter Haixun 31.

AsiaOne News is reporting one of China’s largest and newest civilian patrol vessels, the Haixun 31, is expected to arrive in Hawaii September 4, for five days of exercises and mutual familiarization.

Similar in size to a 378, it will be bringing a helicopter with it. Helicopters are less common on Chinese law enforcement vessels, than they are on USCG ships.

Last year the same ship visited Singapore. Their Maritime Safety Administration is relatively large at approximately 20,000 employees, but is only one of five agencies that perform Coast Guard like functions for China.

Chinese to commission 36 cutters in three years

While the Coast Guard will perhaps soon be commissioning four 353 ton Webber Class Fast Response Cutters a year, and has been averaging one large cutter every two years, it looks like the Chinese Maritime Surveillance Administration (CMS) will have commissioned 36 new cutters from 2010 to 2012 including seven 1500 ton class, fifteen 1000 ton class and fourteen 600 ton class “to better protect China’s maritime interests.” This is a huge, rapid expansion of their assets. (Also the tonnage ratings the Chinese provide tend to be light displacement, so they understate their size.)

This is only one of several Chinese agencies that do Coast Guard type task. Other agencies are also building ships. These agencies use relatively few air assets, and these ships are less sophisticated. But as Stalin was reported to say, quantity has a quality all its own.

To put this in perspective, China’s recognized EEZ is 877,019 km2 . They claim approximately 3,000,000 km2 additional, disputed by other nations, or about 3,877,019 km2 in total. The US EEZ is 11,351,000 km2 so even considering all their claimed EEZ, it is only a slightly more than a third the size of our own.

Law of the Sea–Why not?

Ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty always seemed like a good thing. Both the Commandant and the CNO support it.

I can’t claim to have a full understanding of the treaty, but I have begun to get inklings of why others have reservations about it. As in all things legal, it is subject to interpretation, and the interpretation of others do not necessarily match our own.

In the interest of having a balance view, you might want to spend a few minutes reading what Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, has to say about why its not a good idea.

The right of innocent passage seems to be one of the things that is subject to interpretation, and it is not just China and developing countries that see things differently. So do the Canadians. (More here, here, and here.)

Daewoo builds 20 Largest Ships in the World for Maersk

You may not have noticed, because they don’t necessarily come to the US, but merchant ships are getting BIG. At the end of WWII a typical dry cargo ship (Victory ship) was about 442′ long and 57′ of beam. A typical tanker (T-2) was 502′ x 68′.

Maersk has contracted with S. Korean ship builder Daewoo to build 20 ships that will be the largest in the world. These ships are 400 meters by 59 meters or approximately 1312′ long and 194′ of beam. The hull is larger than that of the newest super carrier now building, SS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) 1092’x134′. (Ford’s overall width will be greater because of the width of the flight deck.)

If you need a demonstration of the fact that size alone is not a major determinate of the cost of a ship–that “steel is cheap and air is free,” these ships will cost about $190M each compared with $13.5B for the Gerald R. Ford and about $700M for the National Security Cutters. (I can’t help but think these would make some bodacious escort carriers.)

For more information on these ships, look here. Additional specs here.

More BIG ships here.