DECEMBER 16, 2014 — China, which has maritime boundary disputes with just about all its neighbors and not least Japan, is set to deploy what is being trumpeted as the largest coast guard vessel in the world, with a displacement of over 10,000 tons. Actually, that still leaves it a tad under the weight of the polar icebreaker USCG Healey which displaces 16,000 tons. Still, in terms of gunboat diplomacy, the Chinese newbuild kicks things up a notch or two.
A picture uploaded on the internet December 13 by what media reports call a "Chinese netizen" shows the vessel, the Haijing 2901, in the water at the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard, part of CSSC (China State Shipbuilding Corporation).
Analysts seem to agree that the ship probably won't be ready to deploy until next spring. Loaded displacement of the ship could reach 12,000 tons, with a speed of 25 knots. Reports say it will have 76 mm rapid-fire naval guns, two secondary turrets and two anti-aircraft machine guns. As the first number in the ship's serial number is 2, it looks to be headed for the East China Sea, with the disputed Diaoyu islands in its patrol area.
In the spirit of "mine's bigger than yours," Chinese media seem delighted to note that the ship will be considerably larger than Japan's largest Shikishima-class vessel, which has a full load displacement of about 9,300 tons