The vessel called the Da Yang Hao (Great Ocean), has a top speed of 30 km/h and a range of 14,000 miles (approximately 22,500 km). It has the capability to conduct deep-sea resource exploration in any of the world’s oceans, state media reported on Saturday, cited by the South China Morning Post. The ship is owned and managed by the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources.
“Delivery of the vessel marks a new era for China’s capability in marine resources exploration and research … and [will help to] maintain the country’s interests in the international sea area,” the report said.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told the Post that if the ship was deployed to the South China Sea it would bolster Beijing’s maritime presence in the region, while also boosting China’s strategic capabilities.
“More than that, the ship’s collection of vital oceanographic information and data helps China enhance its understanding of the waters, which will help optimise its range of civilian and military activities – altogether helping China assert its claim.”
The Da Yang Hao is 98.5 meters (323 feet) long, 17 meters wide and has a displacement of almost 4,600 tonnes. It has also been fitted with cutting-edge equipment, such as an underwater vehicle, sonar and remote sensing systems.
“The information will be used by China to promote such understanding of, for example, the seabed conditions, the ecological patterns, etc, which could generate useful data for fishery, seabed mining and hydrocarbon exploitation, among various activities,” Koh explained.
The waters where the vessel is to be deployed have been a matter of dispute between China and Vietnam since early July. The stand-off began when the Chinese ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 (Marine Geology 8) – escorted by several heavily armed coastguard vessels – entered waters near the Vietnamese-controlled reef at Vanguard Bank to conduct a seismic survey.