China launches largest maritime patrol ship amid rising regional tensions

China launches largest maritime patrol ship amid rising regional tensions

China launched a new maritime patrol vessel on Tuesday – the largest and most advanced to join its civilian fleet – as tensions rise between Beijing and its neighbours over the disputed South China Sea.

The Haixun09 – meaning “sea patrol” – is big enough to accommodate several types of helicopters and will be able to handle rough seas and strong winds, its chief engineer Yan Peibo told state-run China National Radio.

With a displacement of 10,700 tonnes, it is larger than the navy’s Type 052 guided-missile destroyers that accompany its aircraft carriers, and analysts say it could be used to assert Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration will manage the 165-metre vessel, which can sail more than 10,000 nautical miles at an economical speed of 16 knots and will be able to make voyages of more than 90 days, according to the report.