China continues to expand its vessel fleets to protect its maritime rights, some of which are disputed by neighbors. The trend is toward more tonnage, and there are signs the hitherto unarmed platforms might now be outfitted with weapons
The State Oceanic Administration’s China Marine Surveillance (中國海警) announced on 2 May it would increase personnel, upgrade its existing fleet and acquire 36 new surveillance ships to patrol its territorial waters over the next five years.
As part of the 12th five-year plan approved by the State Council, 36 ‘Haijian’ surveillance ships will join the CMS fleet, which currently consists of about 300 cutters, including 30 with displacement over 1,000 tonnes. Those additions are part of the third phase of a CMS expansion project launched in 2000. According to Asian reports, seven 1,500-tonne, fifteen 1,000-tonne and fourteen 600-tonne ocean surveillance ships are to be acquired during that period. Other projections indicate the CMS may seek vessels with higher displacement, including three in the 5,000-tonne class, as it begins patrolling further out at sea.
My article, published on May 4 in Jane’s Defence Weekly, can be accessed here (subscription required).