China has taken a sly approach with its naval activities around the Indian Ocean region which calls for some caution regarding anti-submarine operations. The satellite images accessed by The Print also takes attention to the Pakistani warships occasionally accompanying their survey vessels.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy or PLAN has keenly managed a significant count of oceanographic survey ships being sent to the Indian Ocean region in the past year.
Chinese warships and nuclear submarines have been witnessed making port calls in Colombo for three years now. A PLAN type 926 submarine tender which is a kind of ship that supports submarines was seen in Colombo in February 2016, could mean a continuous survey mission.
The Type 926 submarine search and rescue tender #865 Liugongdao usually travels along China’s nuclear submarines. However, the rescue submarine was not spotted on board the mother-ship at the time of port call in Colombo which suggests that DSRV was possibly on a special survey mission around as per the satellite images accessed by ThePrint.
The mother- ship of the most advanced rescue submarines- the Type 7103 deep submergence rescue vessel (DSRV) can dive up to 600 m and rescue 18 personnel.
In a satellite image of 4 February 2017 was observed PLAN’s top naval survey ship- the Type 636A hydrographic survey ship Haiyang #22 class. Having a crew of 134 personnel, this 130m- long marine comprehensive survey ship has speeds of 15 knots on its own steam with a journey endurance of 15,000 nautical miles.
Chinese interest in surveying the Indian Ocean region for better submarine operations has become quite obvious with the presence of Haiyang #22 in Colombo.
There has also been a joint exercise of China and Pakistani Navy earlier this year to survey the Makran Trench in the Persian Gulf- Arabic Sea region with PLAN’s modern Type 625C Shiyan 3 oceanographic survey ship.
In order to conduct underwater surveys of areas in the Arabian Sea with Shiyan 3, the survey ship was on the west coast of India on 18 January.
The largest oceanographic survey catamaran in the world having a length of 90 m and beam 32 m is undergoing sea trials in Guangzhou, China also beats the USS Impeccable.
The ship -type catamaran, looks different than its predecessors. A humongous funnel at the center mean larger engines which leads to longer endurance at sea. These ships are said to be equipped with world- class advanced measurement systems like submarine geomorphology, submarine surface geological survey, ocean gravity, area temperatures, salinity, density, tide etc.
The roles of these ships are as force multipliers in anti- submarine warfare (ASW) with a collection of oceanographic data while keeping an eye on opponent’s submarine. China’s preparation for an ASW in the region is likely by their incursion into the IOR.