Saturday, August 21, 2010

A more indepth look at Chinese maritime law enforcement

I've spent sometime the last couple of days preparing for a more informative post on cutters from different Chinese coast guard/maritime surveillance agencies. This is my attempt at a comprehensive look at Chinese maritime enforcement.

I would say that a good place to start is by looking at the Law Enforcement Cutters section of the Sinodefence Naval Vessel Page. Generally speaking, there are five agencies with a large hand in China's maritime law enforcement. The picture below shows the agencies and what is the prefix for their ship names.

The first one listed in there is the China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The CMS has the primary mission of patrolling China’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A 2008 report in China Daily revealed that CMS had a total of nine aircraft and more than 200 patrol vessels. The largest CMS ship right now is Haijian-83. It is in 3000 ton class and here is an article on it

That is followed by the 1500-ton Haijian-51. This ship has gotten into numerous confrontations with the Japanese over at East China Sea.

The 1200-ton Haijian-27 (aka 1000t-class Type II) cutter.

The 1150-ton Haijian-17/46 (aka 1000t-class Type I) cutter

A new 600-ton design

There are more ships in CMS, but these are just an example of the ships. It also recently received two ships that used to be Type-037 patrol boats for PLAN.

In October 2008, CMS Deputy Director Sun Shuxian declared that, “The [CMS] force will be upgraded to a reserve unit under the navy, a move which will make it better armed during patrols … the current defensive strength of CMS is inadequate”. CMS has stepped up patrol in both South and East China Sea. The build-up in South China Sea is really significant because it comes on the heel of large PLAN SSF build-up and China's recent elevation of South China Sea to Tibet/Taiwan in terms of Sovereignty discussions. We all know about the numerous confrontations between China and USN in this area recently. We have also read about numerous issues with Vietnamese in the same area. It looks like CMS' desires to take over many of the duties currently conducted by SSF as that fleet is moving further blue sea. The diagram below is the organization of the South Sea branch of CMS.

Probably the more significant part is the tremendous expansion that is currently under way for CMS's South Sea branch. According to a June 2009 article, they are planning more cutters of 4000t, 1500t and 1000t class. In fact, we've already seen the first 1000t-class Type II launched in HP shipyard as Haijian-75. At the same time, a 1500t-class cutter is under construction next to the 5th 054A in the dry dock of HP. Rumour is that HP will build a total of 4 1000t-class, 2 1500t-class and 1 4000t-class. Either way, we are seeing a huge expansion of CMS.

The second listed ministry is the Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) and its ships begin with the prefix YuZheng. FLEC is given the task of preventing illegal fishing activities in China’s coastal fisheries. The largest FLEC vessel to this date is YuZheng-88. It is actually converted from replenishment ship 888 that had just entered PLAN SSF a few years ago, so this is a 15,000t-class ship.

There are also several other large cutters in service like the 2500t-class Yuzheng-310 and 4000t-class Yuzheng-311

There are several other larger cutters like Yuzheng301 and Yuzheng303

The third listed ministry is the Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) of the Ministry of Transport. Its ships begin with the prefix Haixun or Haibiao. In terms of manpower, MSA exceeds any of the other maritime enforcement agencies with over 20,000 personnel, reflecting both the power of China’s commercial maritime interests generally, and the range of missions—from certifying seafarers to maintaining aids to navigation—that MSA oversees. MSA is headlined by the two largest ship in their inventory Haixun-11 and Haixun-31. They are both 3000t cutters.
Haixun-11 is built for Shandong branch of MSA

Haixun-31 is built for Guangdong branch of MSA.

There is also the 1500t-class Haixun-21 built for the Shanghai branch.

And here are a couple of other smaller MSA ships.

Despite having the most personnel, MSA does not have the most impressive fleet of cutters. The expansion of MSA is more even than CMS, with Shandong (next to yellow sea), Shanghai (next to East China Sea) and Guangdong (next to South China Sea) all getting their largest cutters. MSA cutters come together in South China Sea or East China Sea for patrolling exercises a couple of times a year. MSA will also be getting a 5000t-class cutter soon, which will be the largest and most modern cutter in service (if we don't include YuZheng-88).

The fourth listed ministry is the anti-smuggling force of the General Administration of Customs. Its ships begin with the prefix Haiguan. It is probably the ministry that has seen the least new ships. I guess that indicates the general lower rank of the customs. It just have a few smaller ships like below.

The fifth listed ministry is the Coast Guard (aka Maritime Police in Chinese), which is under the control of PAP. Despite its name, it is neither the largest or the most influential of the ministries. Its ships begin with the prefix Haijing.
The most modern vessel in its fleet is Haijing-1001.

It has received 2 ex-Jianghu class frigates which were given the numbers 1002 and 1003. I believe as more Jianghu ships get decommissioned, the coast guard maybe getting more of them.

I have also posted several other vessels below, but they are really not that modern compared to what we are seeing for some of the other ministries.

In summary, it looks like CMS and MSA are undergoing the largest expansions among the ministries. I believe much of those ships will be delivered to the branches serving the East and South China Sea. These are part of China's effort to have more control in the disputed waters. As with PLAN, civilian maritime fleet were seriously neglected until recent times. So even with the recent expansion effort, it is much smaller and less potent than US and Japanese Coast Guard. The different agencies are procuring more aircraft recently to help with maritime patrol, but they are still tiny compared to that of US and Japan. At the same time, I'm also wary about how so many agencies would be able to work together in offshore patrol. Even so, the maritime agencies (especially CMS and MSA) have indeed expanded and improved a lot in the recent year. And with all of the major recent incidents, they have only expanded the pace of their expansions. I am also interested in seeing how these civilian agencies interact with the navy in patrolling duties. For example, would PLAN delegate patrolling activities to these agencies and not bother with having an OPV class?

Regardless, I think this is one significant development in Chinese maritime aspirations that is not really covered that well by PLA-watchers like myself or foreign government agencies.

Friday, August 20, 2010

054A photos from HP shipyard + Varyag photos

I've come across some really good photos of new 054A from HP shipyard and recent photos of Varyag. First, for the 5th 054A and also the 4th 054A from HP:
More detailed photos of the 5th 054A, looks like most of the sensors are already installed. I'm still a little shocked by how it just appeared.

The 4th 054A from HP, No 548, resting in the dock with Haijian-75, one of the new cutters.

Now, recent photos of Varyag from Dalian. It looks like a lot of work has been done since the last set of photos we've seen. The island is now all painted, although the sensors are still yet to be installed. There are still many boxes, containers, cables and generators sitting on its deck. I will let you guys make judgment on how it's progressing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New 054A + MSA ships

First of all, I was hit with a huge surprise yesterday morning when I saw pictures of the 5th 054A from HP shipyard. Normally, we see a nice progression of photos of the ship being built, but this one was almost ready to be launched by the time we got the first photos. On top of that, I had expected PLAN to stop producing 054 ships for a while after the 2nd batch of 4 were completed. After more extended look and checking my sources, it does appear to be authentically the 5th 054A from HP shipyard. They did a really good job of hiding this ship behind a civilian ship, so we did not know it was being built all along. By the time this ship was in plain sight, it was already fitted with sensors. This ship appears to be a little different from the previous 4 from far out, so I'm eagerly waiting for more close up photos before it is launched. As we know, 054 ships normally get built in pairs with one in HP shipyard and one is HD shipyard. With the appearance of this one, we can assume a 5th one will also be built in HD. That indicates we would have at least 2 054s and 10 054As. A while ago, Richard Fisher did an interview with one of the diesel engine makers that said they expected PLAN to produce about 12 054/As based on the diesel engines they purchased. After that, they expected PLAN to move on to a design that also used gas turbines. From that, I would expect that they stop producing 054A designs after this pair and start producing a modified design that is a little larger after 2 to 3 years. A separate possibility is that they will produce a few more 054As to rotate to Gulf of Aden. Anyhow, here is the new ship. You can see that the 4th 054A from HP (No 548) has come back.

Another interesting part is seeing a new MSA ship beside No 548. From following Chinese Maritime patrol ships, it appears that they are all either Haixun or Haijian. I could be totally off here, but Haixun ships seemed to be for the Chinese Ministry of Transportation and Haijian ships are for the State Oceanographic Administration.

According to the State Oceanic Administration website, that MSA ship should be Haijian-75. It was launched on July 29th and will be delivered to south sea branch in the end of October. It is one of the 4 such 1000-ton class ships that HP shipyard is building for the south sea branch. They are also building 2 1500-ton class ships (Haijian-15 is the first one) and 1 3000-ton class ship (Haijian-50). This is all part of China's effort to increase patrols in the South China Sea (or as other countries see it, an effort to dominate South China Sea).

Some of the ships currently in service:



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Usage of PLAN Aircraft Carrier

We see many articles in the West about PLAN's rapid growth and the possibilities of the future Aircraft Carriers. There have been a lot of questions in the west about how China might use the new hardware. If this recent OpEd on Global Times is any indication, the discussion on this has not finished in China either.

In this piece, he started off by saying that China currently does not have a battling US for sea control, nor will it have it in the future. And if US keeps regarding China as its enemy in the Pacific Ocean, then that will bring calamity to the world.

He says that overt usage of Chinese navy in solving regional territorial issues or teaching US a small lesson may bring a stronger sense of national strength in the short run, but would result in anti-Chinese sentiment across the world. It will only end up scaring the neighbors. So, the usage of aircraft carrier must be careful. He also mentions that China should use carriers to strengthen the nation's soft power through indirectly diffusing crisis around the world. China cannot achieve sea supremacy over US in the near future, not should it. It should increase national strength through all avenues. There is no reason for China not to have an aircraft carrier given its position as the only UN P5 nation to not have one. The question is how China can make the world feel more at ease about having carriers.

I think the most important part to note is that I really see no desire in Chinese public or even in the military for worldwide domination. Over the past few years, it is sensing a rapid growth in its national stature, so it is acting more boldly on international issues rather than being withdrawn. China has always claimed South China Sea as part of its sovereignty. It is only voicing these claims more loudly now that it is the world's second largest economy.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Latest F-22P news

I will first start off by posting some recent pictures of F-22P. The first two are pictures of 253 (the 3rd unit of F-22P) in sea trials. And the last picture is of the 4th unit of F-22P that is currently under construction in Karachi.

And I also have seen a recent article that interviewed Captain Mirza Foad Amin Baig, who is the Commanding Officer of PNS Zulfiqar. Since I'm not sure about whether I'm allowed to post the article on here, I will just give a detailed summary in points:
  • The First F-22P (PNS Zulfiqar No. 251) was commissioned on 30th July 2009. It arrived in Karachi on 13 September and was inducted into the PN fleet on 19 September.
  • They tested the sensors + weapons of 251, including successful firing of C-802
  • F-22P is 3,144 tonnes and 123.4 m long -> larger than what we thought and larger than Jiangwei class
  • ASuW uses 8 C-802 missiles, Z-9EC for OTH targeting and Chinese version of AK-176M main gun
  • ASW consists of ET-52C 324mm torpedo tubes, RDC-32 rocket launchers and Echo Type 5 hull mounted sonar
  • Close in air defense with FM-90N SAM, AK-176M + 2 export version of Type 730 CIWS
  • Combat system is based on Chinese ZKJ-3C
  • EW suite uses Chinese RWD-8 intercept system and a NJ8I-3 jammer
  • Non-FCR Sensors include a SUR-17 air-surveillence radar, an SR-60 air/surface search radar and a Kelvin-Hughes 2007 navigation radar
  • Uses CODAD propulsion with two Tognum MTU 12V 1163 TB 83 diesel engines
  • Top speed of 28+ knots + range of 6000+ nm at 18 knots
  • Core crew is 188 with capacity for 212

From all report, it looks like PN is quite satisfied with the F-22Ps thus far. I have not kept up with PN current effort in buying an OHP. Last I heard, they were in the process of getting one. I do believe there have already been much talk regarding to PN buying 4 more frigates of China. The only question is what will be on that ship.