The new generation ship will carry drones enabling it to conduct air, sea surface, and underwater monitoring remotely while navigating autonomously in open waters.
With a displacement of 2,100 tonnes, the new research ship will be bigger than the Chinese navy’s Type 056 guided-missile corvette. Work began on Tuesday, but the shipbuilder did not say when it was expected to be completed. It is being built in Guangzhou by the Huangpu Wenchong Shipyard, a subsidiary of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, which develops both research vessels and warships.
According to the report, the vessel’s design is futuristic and streamlined – it will measure 88.5 meters long and 14 meters wide – and its unmanned systems and drones will be able to form a network to observe designated targets. It will also have a monitoring and control system to track how the vessel is operating remotely.
China is building a new type of unmanned research ship https://t.co/xnzK3q33N6
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) July 24, 2021
According to China Ship News, the vessel said to be the first of its type, will carry drones and be equipped to conduct air, sea surface, and underwater monitoring remotely.
“The ship will use sensors, satellite communication, the internet and other technological means to autonomously navigate in open water, and it will dock and leave the dock with assistance,” the report said. “It could be a game changer for marine survey work.”
Chinese marine research activities have been greeted with suspicion by neighbors in the resource-rich South China Sea, where its survey ships have caused disputes though Beijing insists their activities are for the public good. China claims most of the waterway, but many countries contest those claims.
In 2019, a Chinese survey ship triggered a months-long stand-off between the coastguards of China and Vietnam after it sailed into waters near the Vietnamese. Months later, another research vessel was expelled by an Indian warship for operating without permission in waters controlled by India.