Chinese Naval Shipbuilding Capability: An Uncertain Course, adds the most recent volume to Dr. Andrew Erickson’s excellent edited collections on the increase of the People’s Republic’s military, economic, and industrial power published by the Naval Institute Press. Erickson’s credentials include a professorship in strategy at the Naval War College, a research associateship at Harvard’s Fairbank School for Chinese Studies, and a regular congressional witness on areas pertaining to Chinese capabilities and strategy. He is a giant in the field. The work combines seventeen articles written by thirty-two authors, among them storied names such as CRS naval analyst Ronald O’Rourke and former former Director of Intelligence and Information Operations (N2) for U.S. Pacific Fleet CAPT James Fanell (ret). The volume provides a nuanced and insightful view of a major Chinese strategic investment, its shipbuilding industry, and is required reading for anyone, academic or laymen, trying to understand the associated capabilities and implications of the People’s Republic’s maritime rise.
The three hundred-forty-page tome is broken into five sections, describing the PRC’s shipbuilding industry’s foundation and resources, infrastructure, approach to naval architecture and design, remaining challenges, and a section which provides strategic conclusions and predictions for the future of American naval and maritime power. The articles are easily readable, each approximately ten to fifteen pages of crisp, synthesized content, with end notes allowing readers to further explore the author’s research, although most references are translated from Mandarin Chinese. The works also feature multiple graphs, tables, and illustrations, providing further resources for students and researchers. While each article provides fascinating insights into the past, present, and future of Chinese shipbuilding, four areas of study especially stood out as enjoyable, informative, and useful.
First, Christopher P. Carlson and Jack Bianchi’s Chapter I review of the People’s Republic’s naval and maritime history from the formation of the communist state to Xi Jinping provides a concise review of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) strategic development. Carlson and Bianchi first review the PLAN’s operational shift from Near Coast Defense, to Near Seas Active Defense, and finally to Near Seas Defense and Far Seas Operations, as the PLAN’s resources, capabilities, and objectives adapted to match the nation’s goals. The pair provide an excellent linkage between China’s strategic situation since Mao’s victory and the requirements of PLAN platforms as the force shifted from a coastal force to a limited blue water force and finally to a force intended to defend Chinese interests on both the near and far seas. This evolution brought an increase in the complexity and technical sophistication to the Chinese military shipbuilding industry.
Second, Leigh Ann Ragland-Luce and John Costello provide insight into a major limitation of Chinese military shipbuilding: combat electronics. Ragland-Luce and Costello point out that, while PLAN hull and mechanical systems are regularly manufactured using modern industry standards such as modular construction, the PLAN remains unable to field a top-tier indigenously developed combat control system. The authors use the Jiangkai-II (054A)-class guided missile frigate, a modern warship by any standard, whose combat control system (CCS) is based upon the French TAVITAC, vice a comparable Chinese design. This potential lack of integration between the French CCS and developing Chinese weapons and sensor systems might well prove a combat handicap for PLAN forces in future conflicts. Similarly, editor Andrew Erickson with Jonathan Ray and Robert T. Forte provide an excellent dissertation on the limitations of Chinese propulsion plant designs. According to the trio, the PLAN appears proficient in coastal diesel submarine propulsion technologies. The PLAN effectively integrates Sterling Engine Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems into its Yuan-class diesel-electric boats (SSPs), and it leads research into safe Lithium-Ion battery storage systems, potentially increasing coastal submarine endurance. It still lags considerably in both modern integrated surface propulsion plants and nuclear powered propulsion designs.
Third, the work uses present shipbuilding capacity to extrapolate future PLAN capability and force structure. CAPT James Fanell (ret) and Scott Cheney-Peters (Founder of CIMSEC) provide a realistic warning regarding the long-term challenge of Chinese strategic depth in military shipbuilding. Ronald O’Rourke caps the work with a set of implications for the U.S. Navy if PLAN force structure continues to expand.
Fourth, the work also provides an excellent overview of the curious public-private nature of an industry. The ten-year old split of Chinese shipbuilding into competitive public-private corporations Chinese State Shipbuilding Company (CSSC) and Chinese Industrial Shipbuilding Company (CSIC), induced formidable challenges to reintegrate as demand for commercial Chinese-built shipping demand drops and the People’s Republic attempts to cut excess overhead in its public ventures. The work also appropriately conveys the confusing and byzantine structure of the Chinese military-industrial complex, broken into multiple institutes and directorates with potentially overlapping responsibilities.
The edition could have improved by better integration between authors. Several articles re-visit the growth of PLAN naval strategy over the PRC’s history, which becomes redundant. Secondly, in some cases, it is difficult at times to compare Chinese shipbuilding structure and practices to those of other industries worldwide. Is China’s anticipated post-merger structure in line with other shipbuilding industries? The work does not, at times, draw clear comparisons.
Overall, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding provides a very useful window into an area of intense Communist Party strategic investment. The work gives the reader an excellent overview of the industry as a whole, overlapped with strategic context and geopolitical implications. As discussed, the volume also provides a unique look at the industry’s challenges, including increased engineering costs, poor integration with modern combat systems, and challenges in surface ship engineering plants and nuclear propulsion technologies. Nuanced and complex, it describes both the accomplishments of an industry that now leads the world in commercial tonnage produced, but also lags behind in critical areas mastered by much smaller and less-rich nations. Erickson’s volume is a worthy addition to his series and an enjoyable read.
Read CIMSEC’s interview with editor Dr. Andrew Erickson on this book here.
Michael DeBoer is a U.S. naval officer. The views herein are his alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, or any other organization.
Featured Image: China’s first indigenously produced aircraft carrier CV-17/001A under construction at Dalian shipyard. (CJDBY.net)
This article originally featured at the Pathfinder Foundation and is republished with permission. Read it in its original form here.
By Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman & Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, Director Centre for India -Sri Lanka Initiatives of the Pathfinder Foundation
Introduction: Fish do not respect boundaries but humans should!
India and Sri Lanka are two neighboring Indian Ocean states. A shallow and narrow strip of sea called the ‘Palk Bay’ and the ‘Gulf of Mannar’ separates the two countries. There is a clearly demarcated, mutually agreed upon and legally binding International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), separating the territorial waters of the two countries. There are binding commonalities in the form of linguistic, cultural, religious and vocational, between Tamil Nadu and the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Until the signing of IMBL agreements in 1974 and 1976, fishermen from coastal districts of both countries used this sea, mainly for traditional fishing. There was a harmonious coexistence between these communities for a long time. However, Tamil Nadu fishermen changed their fishing methods in the late 1970s and upgraded to steel hulled fishing vessels and engaged in bottom-trawling in order to boost production. Continuous bottom trawling on the Indian side of the IMBL resulted in depleting fish stocks therein. Gradually, these trawlers began to cross over to the Sri Lankan side of the IMBL. The newly introduced Indian trawlers were much bigger and more powerful than traditional craft, as they had to trawl and recover nets heavy with the catch. The fishermen of northern Sri Lanka found it extremely difficult to venture in to the sea during the days when Indian trawlers were poaching, as they feared damage to their boats and fishing gear, as well as safety for their lives.
During the time of the conflict, the Sri Lankan government was compelled to restrict fishing by local fishermen in the north and the east due to security concerns. However, the Indian trawlers continued to bottom trawl in Sri Lankan waters regardless, at times coming 2-3 nautical miles off the Sri Lankan coast. This situation was effectively exploited by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who used Indian trawlers to ferry their cadres, fuel, explosives; mainly from the southern Indian coast to northern, north-western and north-eastern coasts of Sri Lanka. However, the number of Indian trawlers operating in Sri Lankan waters was relatively less during this period, as they feared misidentification as LTTE agents by the Sri Lanka Navy. With the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, and the gradual resettlement of displaced personnel, local fishermen wished to recommence their livelihood activities and what they encountered was a large hostile Tamil Nadu trawler fleet plundering their resources. With the fishery conflict gaining a new significance, both governments continued discussions at various levels to find an amicable long lasting solution. However, to-date, there has been no solution or even a common agreement of the issues affecting fishermen from both countries.
Legal Implications and Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) Fishing
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (FAO, 2001):
Illegal fishing refers to activities: Conducted by national or foreign vessels in waters under the jurisdiction of a State, without the permission of that State, or in contravention of its laws and regulations;
Unreported fishing refers to fishing activities: Which have not been reported, or have been misreported, to the relevant national authority, in contravention of national laws and regulations; or
Unregulated fishing refers to fishing activities: In areas or for fish stocks in relation to which there are no applicable conservation or management measures and where such fishing activities are conducted in a manner inconsistent with State responsibilities for the conservation of living marine resources under international law.
From the above definition, it can be seen that Indian fishermen engage in IUU fishing in every aspect and they are clearly violating the UNCLOS, which permits only the right to innocent passage in another state’s territorial waters. According to Gunasekera (2016), “Article 19.2 (i) of the UNCLOS makes proviso for any ‘fishing activities’ by foreign vessels to be regarded as an act of prejudice towards peace, good order or security of the coastal state, thereby confirming that such passage is not innocent.” Further, Tamil Nadu fishermen do not declare the catch and location, and carry out their activities in contravention of state responsibility to conservation of living marine resources by engaging in destructive bottom trawling.
The United Nations Development Summit in September 2015, adopted UN Resolution 70/1, “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The basis for this resolution was the understanding that global resources in the oceans should be carefully managed for a sustainable future, as the oceans are key in making the earth habitable for humankind. The main objective of Goal 14 of this agenda, ‘Life Below Water’ is to “conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” (UN, 2015). The spirit of this resolution is clearly applicable to the Indo-Sri Lanka fishery conflict. The UN has set a target year as 2020 to end IUU fishing. The UN resolution also talks about conservation and sustainable use of oceans as per international law as reflected in UNCLOS, and encouraging sustainable artisan fishing. India and Sri Lanka being member states of the UN committed to sustainable development and should abide by this resolution.
Sovereignty of Kachchativu Island
The two governments concluded two IMBL agreements with a view to maintaining cordial relations. They could be termed as landmark agreements, which came into force even before the UNCLOS. Tamil Nadu maintains that the island of Kachchativu was ‘ceded’ to Sri Lanka by the 1974 agreement without the consent of the state, for which it has sought legal remedy. However, the central government maintains that these two agreements are binding. As per Gunasekera (2016), “By virtue of the Agreement entered between the two countries in 1974 regarding the boundary in historic waters between the two countries and related issues, the delimitation process has taken place on grounds of fairness and equity more than the application of the principle of ‘equidistance’ though the final outcome justified the latter.” Hence, sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction of Kachchativu clearly falls under Sri Lanka. Based on historical facts, the Government of Sri Lanka has maintained that the island was administered by then Ceylon and has been under its jurisdiction even during the time of the Portuguese and later the British. There is evidence to suggest that Surveyor of the Government of India treated the island as part of then Ceylon, as far back as 1876 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka, 2008).
Tamil Nadu has consistently maintained that the main issue for this conflict is the ceding of this uninhabited island to Sri Lanka. However, the fact of the matter is that Kachchativu was never ‘ceded’ by India. Instead, India recognized that the island belonged to Sri Lanka. The island of Kachchativu is closer to the landmass of Sri Lanka by one nautical mile than that of India. Tamil Nadu politicians also accuse that the Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard harass Tamil Nadu fishermen, who accidentally drift across the IMBL closer to Kachchativu. However, the Indian Coast Guard, filing an affidavit in Chennai High Court, stated that the Indian fishermen are crossing IMBL into Sri Lankan waters for better fish catch as fishery resources are depleted on the Indian side of the IMBL. They also used banned methods of fishing and the Sri Lanka Navy does not cross the IMBL to the Indian side (Indian Coast Guard, 2015). No further argument is necessary, as this statement has come from the most authoritative source in India, which is tasked with the responsibility to guard the IMBL and Indian territorial waters. This affidavit also nullifies the claim often made by Indian fishermen that the Sri Lanka Navy is harassing them, when they are fishing in the Indian waters.
Whenever the Sri Lankan side detains fishermen and their boats engaged in poaching, Tamil Nadu political leaders blame New Delhi for ceding Kachchativu to Sri Lanka, as if that was the core of the dispute. Is Kachchativu Island the real issue in this conflict? Do fishermen from South India accidentally drift across the IMBL in to Sri Lankan side? Do they engage in illegal trawling only around Kachchativu?
The Tamil Nadu fishermen are experts in navigation and know their position well. Besides, most of these trawlers are now fitted with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). However, it has to be highlighted that Indian fishermen are not fishing only around Kachchativu island but come 2-3 nautical miles from the coastal city of Pesali in Mannar island, which is, in fact, 17.5 nautical miles from the IMBL and South West of the Delft island, which is about 11.5 nautical miles from the IMBL (Admiralty Chart, 1987). These two locations are long distances away from the IMBL and Kachchativu and deep inside Sri Lankan territorial waters. Therefore, it can be convincingly concluded that the issue of Kachchativu is only a cover to justify destructive fishing being carried out by Indian trawlers well within Sri Lankan territorial waters to sustain the multimillion-dollar prawn export industry. There are allegations of double standards adopted by the European Union on this clear case of IUU fishing. Although the EU has stated that it is ‘working to close the loopholes that allow illegal operators in the fisheries sector to profit from their activities,’ it has not taken any action to ban export of illegally caught prawns to its member states by India. However, the EU was quick to ban fish exports from Sri Lanka over allegations of IUU fishing though the ban is now removed (Wijedasa, 2015). Of late, northern fishermen have begun to fault the Sri Lanka government for not taking the matter with the EU forcefully.
Fishermen’s Livelihood Issue
Quite often the state of Tamil Nadu argues that their ‘poor fishermen’ are suffering due to enforcement measures undertaken by the Sri Lankan government. However, it is noteworthy that almost all persons, who are engaged in bottom trawling, are contracted employees. It is alleged that the trawlers are actually owned by large-scale businessmen, who are often close to the political elite of the state. Suryanarayan highlights this fact by saying “quick returns from prawns attracted many from non-fishing communities to invest in this profitable venture. As a result, numerous fishermen became daily wage labourers” (2016). A measure of this fact can also be seen from the increased number of trawlers in the three South Indian districts of the Palk Bay (Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Rameshwaram), from 1568 in 1986 to 3339 in 2000 (Suryanarayan, 2016). All these trawlers engage in bottom trawling in Sri Lanka waters. Prawns have become a multimillion-dollar industry; mainly for exporting to the USA, Japan and Western Europe.
However, when the Sri Lankan authorities arrest a minute percentage of these trawlers for poaching in its territorial waters, and subject offenders to judicial processes, there are huge protests in Tamil Nadu and letters are written to the central government demanding intervention. In order to maintain goodwill between the two neighbors, the government of Sri Lanka releases offenders and their boats are handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at the IMBL at regular intervals. This procedure has become a routine occurrence and is not an effective deterrent at all as they return to engage in poaching no sooner they are released. Enforcement measures such as burning or blowing up captured fishing vessels as being practiced by Australia and Indonesia, are not implemented so as not to adversely affect bilateral relations with India when they capture vessels engaged in IUU fishing in their territorial waters. However, a step in the right direction is that due to severity of poaching, Sri Lanka has refused the demand made at the November negotiations in New Delhi for the release of hundreds of boats it has seized.
Traditional and Human Security Implications
During its heydays, LTTE employed Indian fishing trawlers either seized or hired, to transport war-fighting materials and their cadres, initially between the two coasts and at latter stages to carry out ship to shore transfers. Such activity posed a serious security threat, as the LTTE was able to engage in near-conventional battles using long range artillery and mortar pieces. The conflict ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE. Although there has not been a resurgence of the organization, there were several attempts by certain segments of the Tamil Diaspora to revive hostilities in Sri Lanka. Against such a backdrop, large number of Indian fishing trawlers coming very close to Sri Lankan coast on a regular basis could lead to serious security implications, should the LTTE decide to revive their violent organization. Further, frequent smuggling of narcotic drugs into Sri Lanka from South India are using Indian trawlers to carry out this illegal trade.
The northern Sri Lankan fishermen engage in most sustainable methods of fishing, employing traditional artisanal methods. They do not operate multi-day fishing vessels, unlike their southern counterparts. They use small boats and venture in to the ocean for short periods, usually not more than 24 hours.
However, large steel hulled Indian trawlers practice bottom trawling, which is considered as one of the most destructive methods of fishing. Bottom trawlers are called “hoovers of the ocean” and “bulldozers mowing down fish and other benthic species” (Suryanarayan, 2016). If this bulldozing of the Sri Lanka Ocean is continued, soon there will be hardly any fish to catch. Bottom trawling scrapes the sea bed, disturbs the marine environment, damages age old corals, affect the growth of planktons and finally affect the reef fish, prawns and other types on benthic marine species, which could result in ‘habitat degradation.’ The majority of the northern coastal population of Sri Lanka depends on fishing or fishery related industry. That is the only livelihood activity they have ever known. If that source of livelihood is destroyed, there will be huge economic, social and political consequences affecting human security.
Progress of High level and Fishermen level Discussions
Traditionally, the Indian side had made it a practice to demand that representatives of fishermen from the two countries should meet and discuss all issues relating to the dispute, to which Sri Lankan authorities seem to agree, despite the fact the issue required negotiation between the two governments and not between offenders and victims. Recently however, representatives of Sri Lankan fishermen have been firm against the systematic exploitation of fisheries resources by their Indian counterparts. During the most recent encounter in New Delhi on November 2, 2016, after a gap of nearly one and half years, Sri Lankan fishermen refused to agree to the demand made by their Tamil Nadu counterparts to fish in Sri Lankan waters for 83 days in a year for three consecutive years as a grace period before they switch into deep sea fishing as an alternative way out of the Indo-Lanka poaching issue (Sunday Times, November 13, 2016).
The Sri Lankan fishermen have been adamant that they would not agree to continuation of illegal poaching and bottom trawling in their waters and had insisted that Tamil Nadu fishermen should stop engaging in such activity forthwith. The Sri Lankan fishermen also demanded compensation for the losses incurred due to poaching and bottom trawling, prior to moving ahead of further talks (The Hindu, 2016). Further, they had pointed out that Tamil Nadu fishermen were engaged in IUU fishing, and threatened to take the matter up in international forums to bring pressure against the illegal activities practiced by them for decades. The stand taken by the Sri Lankan fishermen, who are the victims of IUU fishing, is genuine as it is their livelihood at stake. It is the responsibility of the Indian government to adopt measures to address the livelihood issue of its citizens and, allocate adequate resources help them in their transition from bottom trawling to deep-sea fishing.
Aftermath of the inconclusive fishermen’s talks, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister and Aquatic Resources Development Minister met with Indian External Affairs Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, to discuss possible measures to find solutions to the fishery conflict (Lanka Business Online, 2016). This is the first time the two foreign ministers actively participated in fishery talks, which is a clear indication of the commitment of both governments to find a lasting solution. Whilst the details of the discussions are not published, it is reported that they agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to meet every three months and a meeting between Ministers of Fisheries every six months. The first Ministerial Meeting was held on January 2, 2017 in Colombo.
Among the several issues to be taken up by the JWG are for “expediting the transition towards ending the practice of bottom trawling at the earliest,” which patently lacks a time bound commitment. Other tasks of the JWG would be to work out modalities for Standard Operating Procedures for handing over apprehended fishermen and ascertain possibilities of cooperation on joint patrolling (Lanka Business Online, 2016).
Conclusion and The Way Forward
Diplomatic initiatives, JWGs and fishermen to fishermen talks have not seen the desired results for the last several decades. There is no common understanding between the two sides, one driven by profits and greed, and the other by poverty and desolateness. Whilst the Sri Lanka side maintains that poaching and bottom trawling by Indian trawlers should not be permitted, the Indian side is demanding licensing, limiting the number of trawlers and days, thereby not harming their fishermen in Sri Lankan waters.
The law enforcement authorities on both sides of the IMBL are forced to restrain themselves due to political pressure wielded by Tamil Nadu business interests. The hostile attitude of Tamil Nadu towards Sri Lanka mainly rests around this dispute, which could result in adversely affecting the excellent bi-lateral relations between the two countries. The solution to the problem is not to permit Tamil Nadu business interests to profit from their illegal activities. Unless a firm position is taken by Sri Lanka with regard to violation of its territorial waters, engaging in illegal bottom trawling by way of stepped up arrests and non-return of fishing vessels may continue. It is clear that poaching in the Palk Bay area and the Gulf of Mannar would continue for some time, while the marine environment is systematically destroyed to a point of no return. However, the ongoing dispute should not result in physical harm to the Tamil Nadu fishermen, due to the failure of authorities concerned to address the dispute in a timely manner.
Both sides should accede that this is a livelihood issue affecting thousands of families on both sides of the divide. It has also to be recognized that taking care of livelihood issues of citizens is a responsibility of the respective governments, who should find solutions to issues affecting bilateral relations without resorting to prevarication. As Suriyanarayanan points out, there are some positive measures being undertaken by the state of Tamil Nadu. There is a planned buy-back arrangement of trawlers, provide alternative livelihood for fishermen engaged in trawling and to construct tuna long liners. Through incentives and persuasion, affected fishermen could be encouraged to switch over to deep sea fishing in the Indian EEZ and international waters or engage in other vocations. However, sincerity, effectiveness and timely implementation of these measures are yet to be ascertained (Suryanarayan, 2016).
Sri Lanka’s concern is whether the fragile marine ecosystem in the Palk Bay would survive until these measures are implemented effectively. There is a need for Sri Lanka to embark on scientific research on the subject area to ascertain the real damage caused by bottom trawling and the resultant impact on the fisheries in the Palk Bay in order to gather sufficient data from primary and secondary sources, make an assessment of the cost of annual losses due to poaching, and be ready to present a incontrovertible case to India. A research station in the island of Kachchativu manned by the National Aquatic Resources Research & Development Agency (NARA) personnel could be entrusted with this task. A joint mechanism for investigation of alleged offences and joint patrolling by both countries merits consideration. If all efforts fail in finding an amicable solution, the government of Sri Lanka should be ready to refer the dispute to the appropriate international authorities on the strength of UN resolution 70/1, Goal 14: ‘to conserve and sustainably use oceans and marine resources for sustainable development.’
Admiralty Chart Number 1584- Trincomalee to Point Calimere (2010) Indian Coast Guard (2015) Indian Fishermen Indulge in illegal acts in Lankan Waters. Available at: [LINK=http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-indian-fishermen-indulge-in-illegal-acts-in-lankan-waters-says-coast-guard-2081178.]http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-indian-fishermen-indulge-in-illegal-acts-in-lankan-waters-says-coast-guard-2081178.[/LINK] \[Accessed: 24th Sep 2016] Lanka Business Online (2016). Indo-Sri Lanka have held ministerial level talks to find solutions to fishermen’s issues. 07 Nov 2016. Available at: [LINK=http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/india-sri-lanka-hold-ministerial-talks-on-fishermen/]http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/india-sri-lanka-hold-ministerial-talks-on-fishermen/[/LINK] \[Accessed: 9 Nov 2016] Suryanarayan, V. (2016) The India Sri Lanka Fisheries Dispute: Creating a Win-Win in the Palk Bay. Available at: [LINK=http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/09/09/india-sri-lanka-fisheries-dispute-creating-win-win-in-palk-bay-pub-64538]http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/09/09/india-sri-lanka-fisheries-dispute-creating-win-win-in-palk-bay-pub-64538[/LINK] \[Accessed: 25th Sep 2016] Sustainable Development Goals: 17 goals to transform our world. UN Available at: [LINK=http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/]http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/[/LINK] \[Accessed: 24th Sep 2016] The Hindu (2016). Indo-Sri Lanka Fishermen talks end in Stalemate, The Hindu, 02 Nov 2016. Available at: [LINK=http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indosri-lanka-fishermen-talks-end-in-stalemate/article9296510.ece]http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indosri-lanka-fishermen-talks-end-in-stalemate/article9296510.ece[/LINK] \[Accessed: 10th Nov 2016] The Maritime Border Between Sri Lanka and India Stand Settled, (2008). Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka. Available at: [LINK=http://www.mfa.gov.lk/index.php/en/component/content/1396?task=view]http://www.mfa.gov.lk/index.php/en/component/content/1396?task=view[/LINK] \[Accessed:25th Sep 2016] Saikia, J. and Stepanova, E. (2009) Terrorism: Patterns of Internationalization. SAGE publications, New Delhi Wijedasa, N. (2015) Politics bedevils solution to Palk bay Poaching, Sunday Times, 20th Dec 2015, Available at: [LINK=http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151220/news/politics-bedevils-solution-to-palk-bay-poaching-176067.html]http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151220/news/politics-bedevils-solution-to-palk-bay-poaching-176067.html[/LINK] Accessed: 25th Sep 2016
Featured Image: Fishermen carry a box filled with fishes at a fishing harbor in the southern Indian city of Chennai. (Babu/Reuters)
Some international observers minimize the importance of military facilities and operational capabilities on the People’s Republic of China’s various claimed features, rocks, and islands in the South China Sea. They should reconsider.
Each location in isolation is not that potent. However, in the aggregate, this island base network poses a more resilient capability (geographically dispersed cluster bases) which, at the very least, would require a significant effort to neutralize, detracting significantly from other priority missions.
PRC military aircraft and missile batteries spreading throughout the South China Sea serve a number of important functions, all to the disadvantage of the United States and its allies and those who have a stake in freedom of the seas, the rule of law, and their own territorial claims.
First, they fortify the PRC’s maritime approaches.
Second, they militarize the PRC’s political claims, making it much more difficult to challenge them legally.
Third, they make it operationally much more difficult and risky to dislodge the PRC from these positions.
Fourth, these individual military capabilities are part of a larger fixed and mobile PRC military network, not only throughout the South China Sea, but on the Chinese mainland.
Fifth, the PRC now has four large People’s Liberation Army (PLA) airfields in the South China Sea, and these extend dramatically the operational range of PLA land-based aircraft, which can recover on these fields, refuel, and swap crews in shuttle missions which change the military equation considerably.
Sixth, these maritime facilities push out the limits of the PLA’s maritime footprint. This helps the PRC achieve a goal of establishing maritime control throughout the first island chain by magnifying the PLA’s anti-access (A2) and area-denial (AD) capabilities and bringing a considerably larger portion of the PRC’s maritime approaches under PLA firing arcs. Planners will have to take into account future deployments of DF-21D and DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missiles, for instance, and the likelihood of an extension of PRC seabed acoustic sensors like the U.S. SOSUS system, tracing the contours of China’s Nine Dash Line territorial claims.
What happens when advanced systems are deployed to these island outposts?
As one example, it was only a matter of time before Russia announced the transfer of the S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) advanced air defense system to the PRC, following on the earlier transfer of the less-capable but still potent S-300. Given its extremely long range and effective electronic warfare capabilities, the S-400 is a game-changing system which challenges current military capabilities at the operational level of war.
Depending upon where in the PRC it is deployed, and which variant is transferred, its very long range would extend over Taiwan and the Senkaku (Daioyutai/Daioyu) islands. If Russia provides the S-400 with the longest range — 250 miles — in essence this would have the effect of turning a defensive system into an offensive system, and extend the PRC’s A2/AD umbrella over the territory of other regional states and the high seas.
Effective air defense systems like the S-400 are consequential because of the cost equation involved. Surface-to-air missile systems are much less expensive than the manned (and unmanned) aircraft they are designed to target or deter. The very long range of the S-400 multiplies the advantage. Without effective countermeasures, aircraft would be held away from China’s coasts, giving teeth, for instance, to the PRC’s assertion that surveillance missions in the PRC’s EEZ are not allowed.
Modern air forces expect to have to fool, suppress, pick their way through, or go around good integrated air defense systems, and countermeasures and tactics for doing so are well developed. In a move-countermove air warfare competition, the Russian transfer of the S-400 to the PRC would make doing so much more difficult (although not impossible).
Of course, one must wonder what the Russians are thinking in their defense technology relationship with PRC as all of this unfolds. Moscow is clearly aware that, while the PRC is expanding to seaward to challenge East Asia’s maritime and littoral states, Beijing’s list of revanchist claims must have motivated PLA leaders to consider plans for northward expansion as well.
Seventh, as Beijing consolidates political, economic, and military control over the South China Sea, one obvious purpose in mind will be to establish secure bastions there for the new Chinese SSBN force. Doing so would be consistent with what we saw the Soviets do when pressed by U.S. and allied ASW forces as envisioned by U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (1978-82) Adm. Thomas Hayward’s Maritime Strategy, subsequently made famous by U.S. Secretary of the Navy (1981-87) John Lehman.
Unfortunately, these aggressive PRC developments illustrate the old maxim that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. While the PRC’s construction on its collection of artificial islands must consist of dual-use infrastructure at this point, the military purpose behind the PRC’s new South China Sea bases is transparent. It would have been much easier to prevent the building of these facilities than it will be to dislodge them. The U.S. and the Allies learned this lesson, to Japan’s disadvantage, at Guadalcanal during World War II, where Japan and the United States fought desperately for six months to prevent Japan from building an airfield and dominating the lines of communication from the United States to Australia and New Zealand.
The PRC’s island building also reminds how unforeseen developments can have dramatic cascading consequences. At Guadalcanal, before the almost casual Japanese decision to build an airstrip at the location of what became immortalized as Henderson Field, the two sides had no specific intention to fight in the region, or to lose almost 50 ships in the ensuing naval battles. Japan’s Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto focused the Imperial Japanese Navy on Guadalcanal (previously an Imperial Army operation), because that was where the U.S. fleet and Marines were. Building airstrips and importing missile batteries has that sort of galvanizing effect, and in the case of Guadalcanal it preserved the Coral Sea strategy — keeping open the sea lanes between Australia and the United States — which remains a key pillar of U.S. and Australian national security strategy to this day.
What the PRC has been doing on Mischief Reef, Subi Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef, it can do on various other claimed features and rocks in the South China Sea. In fact, Beijing is doing what the United States and its allies — in a strategically logical world — should also be doing: expanding operational perimeters; distributing significant firepower along operational peripheries; and combining the psychological and legal elements of modern warfare in an integrated campaign.
Paul Giarra, a former U.S. naval aviator and strategic planner, is the President of Global Strategies & Transformation, a Washington, DC, area strategic planning consultancy. He has an extensive background as a national security analyst on Japan, China, East Asia, and NATO futures.
On the occasion of the publication of his newest book,Chinese Naval Shipbuilding: An Ambitious and Uncertain Course, the 6th volume in the USNI Press’ Studies in Chinese Maritime Development Series, CIMSEC spoke with editor and author Dr. Andrew Erickson, Professor of Strategy in, and a core founding member of, the U.S. Naval War College (NWC)’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI).
SD: Dr. Erickson, thank you so much for joining CIMSEC to talk about your new book, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding. This topic is of great interest to our readership, and your book is perhaps the most comprehensive, detailed, and up-to-date look at the growth, and specifically the methods and implications of that growth, of the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLAN). To begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to this topic?
AE: In twelve years in Newport, I’ve been privileged to help establish the U.S. Navy (USN)’s China Maritime Studies Institute(CMSI) and turn it into a recognized research center that has inspired both the Air Force’s China Aerospace Studies Institute and the Naval War College’s Russia Maritime Studies Institute. In my own analysis, I’ve explored new areas of Chinese-language methodology and worked to develop new concepts and findings that can enhance U.S. understanding of, and policies toward, China.
With the support of CMSI’s current director, Professor Peter Dutton, I have recently applied our Institute’s resources to examining the industrial underpinnings of one of this century’s most significant events, China’s maritime transformation. Strong strategic demand signals and guidance from civilian authorities, combined with solid shipbuilding industry capability, are already driving rapid progress. Yet China’s course and its implications, including at sea, remain highly uncertain—triggering intense speculation and concern from many quarters and in many directions. Moreover, despite these important dynamics, no book had previously focused on this topic and addressed it from a USN perspective. Likethe CMSI conference on which it is based, the resulting volume in our series with the Naval Institute Press, “Studies in Chinese Maritime Development,” focuses some of the world’s leading experts and analysts on addressing several crucial questions of paramount importance to the USN and senior decision makers: To what extent, and to what end, is China going to sea? What are China’s prospects for success in key areas of naval shipbuilding? What are the likely results for China’s navy? What are the implications for the USN?
SD: Part One of the text deals with Foundations and Resources, meaning the foundations of China’s shipbuilding industry and the assets supporting its efforts. The first chapter, in fact, explores how the evolution of China’s maritime strategy impacts future ship design. From your perspective, what primary mission needs will drive Chinese shipbuilding over the next quarter century, and what effect will that have on the fleet?
AE: China’s primary focus remains upholding its interests and promoting its disputed claims in the “Near Seas”—which encompass the waters within the First Island Chain (the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea)—as well as defending their immediate approaches. It also has a growing desire to increase operational capability in the “Far Seas”—beyond the First Island Chain. This is essentially about being able to project power. First, to improve the defense of China itself; and second, to defend China’s growing economic interests abroad, which largely depend on unfettered access to the sea.
However, operating at greater distances from China places greater demands on its naval platforms as it becomes far more difficult to support surface ships, submarines, and aircraft the farther they move away from the coast. If we look at the desired capabilities for Far Seas operations, then we should expect improvements in surface combatant area anti-air defenses, anti-submarine warfare, and strike warfare. Chinese deck aviation components are largely air defense assets right now. A robust land attack/strike capability is the next step. Improvements in acoustic quieting are absolutely necessary if PLAN submarines are to survive being targeted in deeper, blue water environments. Shifts toward anti-submarine and strike warfare will represent the biggest likely changes in combat capabilities. Also required: a significant improvement in Chinese logistics support to sustain deployed platforms. The PLAN has started actively pursuing these goals, but it will take some time before it masters them.
SD: China’s rise as a global sea-going power is recent, relatively speaking. Has China’s shipbuilding industry been more proactive or reactive to perceived and notional threats? How does the influence of the Chinese Communist Party affect this? One facet your contributors raise repeatedly is Chinese civilian shipyards’ overcapacity and the problems stemming from that.
AE: China’s shipbuilding industry has been assigned an important role and set of requirements by its civilian and military masters: the Party, State, and PLA. The present naval buildout dates to the mid-1990s, apparently catalyzed and accelerated in part by a series of events that impressed China’s leaders with their inability to counter American military dominance. These included Operation Desert Storm (1991), the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis (1995-96), and the Belgrade Embassy Bombing (1999). This suggests that China has been more reactive than proactive regarding external events that affected it at a national level. The fact that many PLAN systems are based on foreign systems reinforces this reactive aspect. That said, China’s rapid growth also means that it is closing the technological gap and is nearing a point where it could transition to a more proactive approach.
SD: One absolutely fascinating aspect of Chinese shipyard infrastructure is that its two largest conglomerates, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), are publicly traded. Have you given any thought to the potential oddities or complications of such an arrangement?
AE: Yes—discussion of this arrangement and its implications has pervaded the conference and the book. China’s state shipbuilders enjoy diversifying bases and increasing extent of financial resources, potentially facilitating greater dynamism and innovation. Following the past decade-plus boom and recent consolidation, depressed civilian demand creates mounting incentives to seek compensatory naval contracts. Yet these state-owned enterprises retain tremendous inefficiencies. Their institutional culture remains influenced by legacy values, norms, and incentives. Their monopoly structure remains one of the central impediments to improving efficiency and innovation. On the other hand, private yards are oriented toward short-term, profit-minded thinking and are not funded to engage in long-term R&D-intensive projects. While CSIC and CSSC have increasingly undertaken naval and para-naval business to absorb excess yard capacity after commercial “Peak Ship” construction occurred around 2012, private yards have largely been left to fend for themselves. Throughout the industry, bureaucratic barriers to efficiency and effectiveness remain a problem, especially for propulsion and shipboard electronic systems and their integration into ships.
SD: Can you speak to the issue of maintenance? Was this new expanded fleet designed with any kind of maintenance scheme or program in mind? Do you foresee effective maintenance being a limiting factor for the PLAN in the near future, and why?
AE: As one of the conference attendees with shipyard management experience emphasized, a navy’s ownership of ships has not one but three basic phases: (1) platform/system acquisition, (2) operations/sustainment/modernization, and (3) disposal. China has pursued phase one front-end procurement with alacrity, but lacks the comprehensive familiarity with phase two that a more mature navy, like that of the United States, has learned through painful, expensive experience.
American public and private sector infrastructure (the industrial base) dedicated to lifecycle sustainment is significantly larger than the industrial base necessary to build ships. Like a goat that tasted great but will strain a python’s digestive tract, a major mid-life maintenance bill for the overhauls of all China’s new ships will start coming due in the next 5-10 years. This requirement to “pay the piper” after years of massive buildout and increasing deployment amid acute maintenance infrastructure underinvestment haunted Soviet naval development in decades past; China may now be poised to reap a similar whirlwind even as economic slowdown imposes tougher tradeoffs. In any event, China’s investment in sustainment and modernization will inform its strategy for naval operations; this merits further research. Related questions concern the degree to which China is developing an inventory of repair parts and logistics infrastructure; as well as the extent of its surge capacity to sustain a fleet suffering significant battle damage.
SD: An issue of great interest to our readers is the possibility of President-elect Trump’s promise of a “350-ship Navy” and increased military spending across the board. Do you believe that such a development (to the extent possible over the short-term of a 4-to-8-year administration) will have an effect on the way China develops its shipbuilding industry and Navy?
AE: Both the United States and China appear to be in a state of considerable flux, at least from a naval force structure perspective. The U.S. shipbuilding plan has been in disarray. The Congressionally-mandated Alternative Carrier Study and the USN-sponsored Fleet Architecture Study are designed to provide significant input to the Force Structure Assessment being assembled by N81, the Assessment Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. As part of the Fleet Architecture Study, Congress has requested alternative reports from a federally-funded research and development center (FFRDC) and a private think tank. These efforts are envisioned to inform the fiscal year 2018 budget and the new thirty-year shipbuilding plan. This new thinking, combined with President-elect Trump’s proposed initiative, has made the American side of any future strategic comparison extremely fluid. Given the challenges at hand, it is imperative that the next Secretary of the Navy come into the job with deep knowledge and experience concerning fleet architecture and construction. Congressman J. Randy Forbes, who has endorsed our volume, is considered by many in the USNand shipbuilding communities to be the ideal candidate.
As for China, its slowing economy and gross overcapacity in many industrial areas make it very unlikely to be able to remain on the current shipbuilding binge. Any straight-line projection based on the last 10-15 years is therefore fraught with peril. Nevertheless, China has already parlayed its possession of the world’s second largest economy and defense budget into the world’s second most powerful navy. Working with China’s other services, the PLAN will be increasingly capable of contesting American sea control within growing range rings extending beyond Beijing’s unresolved feature and maritime claims in the East and South China Seas. Moreover, China is spending a relatively low percentage of GDP on defense, and could afford to greatly increase spending on naval shipbuilding if determined to do so.
SD: The text concludes that, should spending and shipbuilding continue on its current trajectory, the PLAN will be a match for the U.S. Navy in terms of hardware by 2030. In realistic terms, how and where are the first dollars of notional increased U.S. military spending applied to best protect the primacy of American sea power? Is there a realistic way for Washington to address this in the (relatively short) time frame of 14 years?
AE: As I’vetestified before Congress, the place for Washington to start is clear: maintain and build on formidable undersea advantages to which Beijing lacks effective countermeasures and would have to invest vastly disproportionate resources in a slow, likely futile effort to close the gap. American shipyards canexpand production lines already in use to increase the construction rate of Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) from two-and-potentially-fallingto a solid three per year. These submarines are ideal for denying China the ability to hold and resupply any forcefully seized features. The Virginia Payload Module allows for useful increases in missile capacity. Given China’s ongoing limitations in anti-submarine warfare and the inherent difficulty of progressing in this field, it could spend many times the cost of these SSNs and still not be able to counter them effectively.
SD: Part Two of Chinese Naval Shipbuilding addressed some historical peculiarities of China’s shipyard infrastructure compared to that of other nations with similar or comparable capability, including the Republic of South Korea (ROK), its closest regional competitor in terms of tonnage produced. What’s striking is the diversity of output, turnover of new facilities/closing of old ones, and the variable nature of investment and success. One reason given for this by contributors Sue Hall and Audrye Wong is the “intermingling of merchant and military shipbuilding.” How will consolidating military shipbuilding under a state umbrella improve or restrict the PLAN’s growth?
AE: Privately-owned Chinese shipyards remain weak compared to Korean and Japanese counterparts. It is large state-owned enterprises that will likely lead Beijing’s maritime strategic-industrial transformation. In aggregate, and increasingly together, CSIC and CSSC possess great resources and capacity. CSIC and CSSC were unified until 1999, then divided along geographic and functional lines so as not to compete directly. CSIC has the majority of R&D centers, and is to date the primary builder of surface ships and submarines for the PLAN.
Some of our contributors believe true reintegration will occur—as widely reported in Chinese and foreign media—as part of broader efforts to increase efficiency and available resources and to consolidate China’s shipbuilding industry into fewer facilities of greater quality and capability, specifically to reach a State Council-mandated reduction in the number of commercial shipyards from several hundred to sixty. Those doubting that meaningful merger will occur observed that most unions to date exploit geographical efficiencies and that this “low-hanging fruit” has been thoroughly plucked. China is also attempting to ameliorate organizational and technological impediments by emphasizing integration of commercial and naval shipbuilding processes, which some industry experts believe could improve quality and efficiency. Reflecting widespread skepticism among Western specialists concerning the extent and efficacy of such approaches, others maintain that this will actually reduce efficiency and increase challenges because of the fundamentally different natures of naval and commercial shipbuilding. If China somehow succeeds in enhancing market-oriented performance while strengthening centralized oversight—a difficult combination to achieve—it will have the wherewithal to deploy a formidable navy indeed.
SD: One aspect of the PLAN we haven’t discussed much is the development of a robust domestic nuclear submarine program. According to an IHS Jane’s Defence and Security Forecast cited in the book, some $27 billion will be applied to new nuclear- and conventionally-powered projects in the coming years. Why has the PLAN struggled to make the kinds of strides in its subsurface fleet as it has in other areas, and how do you foresee the PLAN’s subsurface fleet evolving between now and 2030?
AE: Propulsion quite literally determines how fast and far Chinese warships can go, and what they can accomplish in many respects. Yet it remains the Chinese shipbuilding industry’s single biggest shortcoming, and hence one of China’s key naval weaknesses. The PLAN is, literally, underpowered; a situation that is unlikely to progress until China’s precision manufacturing capability improves. Nuclear propulsion advances—especially in power density and acoustic quieting—remain difficult to ascertain, but a key variable affecting future progress will be the degree of Russian assistance. China is working hard to acquire, develop, and master relevant technologies, but improvements will be slow, difficult, and expensive. Another related issue is that PLAN nuclear submarines are noisy. This is a significant problem, not only from a survival perspective, but also because high self-noise degrades the ability of the submarine to search effectively.
SD: Speaking of subsurface advancements, you and your chapter co-authors discuss the role and possible overstated impact of Air-Independent Power (AIP) technologies with regard to newer conventional Chinese submarines. Many see the efficacy and impact of AIP on China’s subsurface prowess as somewhat of a foregone conclusion, but perhaps that isn’t so. Can you expand on that a bit for the AIP-believers in our readership?
AE: Sea power requires tremendous power! Propulsion determines how fast and far a ship can go; overall power determines what it can accomplish in a given location. The density of water (829 times greater than air) imposes an unforgiving reality on these dynamics: the cubic, or greater, relationship between power and speed. For a ship to go three times faster, at least twenty seven-times the power is needed.
Furthermore, modern advanced weapons systems require high and growing amounts of power to operate their sensors and weapon systems. Nuclear power, the ultimate gold standard, offers unparalleled performance. Among conventional systems, AIP greatly extends the time a submarine can cruise at low speed without draining its battery and risking detection. AIP systems have significant limitations, however: they require large tanks that are cumbersome to deal with in the design, they do not eliminate the need for the submarine to ventilate, and they do not add to the time a boat can operate at a “burst” speed. All variants suffer shortcomings. Fuel cells require ultra-pure metal hydrides that need several dozen hours to refuel with hydrogen—a dangerous fuel. Even advanced Sterling AIP suffers limited efficiency in using oxygen and the products of combustion have to be pumped overboard, creating depth constraints and additional rotating machinery noises. In sum, an AIP submarine has far too little power or stored energy to resemble a “baby nuke.” Germany and Japan are introducing Lithium-ion batteries as a conventional power alternative; Chinese researchers are watching this trend closely.
SD: We would be remiss not to mention China’s aircraft carrier ambitions. How important is the development of an indigenous aircraft carrier program to the PLAN’s overall viability as a global sea power, and what barriers remain for China’s shipbuilding industry in pursuing a fleet of domestically designed aircraft carriers?
AE: Given difficulties inherent in upgrading marine and aviation propulsion, power, and launch technologies—as well as motivations and choices informing it—an evolutionary design path seems likely for China’s aircraft carrier program. This is part of a larger pattern of substantial remaining challenges for China’s shipbuilding industry, particularly in the area of systems integration. Compared to the United States, China retains particular shipbuilding limitations concerning propulsion, information technology, aviation, certain advanced weapons systems, and other complex systems.
For example, shipboard electronics are important to the PLAN’s desired upward trajectory in sophistication, scope, and scale of operations. However, in-depth examination of the Type 054A Jiangkai-II frigate’s electronics suite suggests that—despite increasing prioritization—organizational parochialism, insufficient coordination, and other inefficiencies continue to impede Chinese progress in this vital area. Common to these bottlenecks is the centrality of sensitive, high-performance components that must work together as a sophisticated system-of-systems. This makes it particularly difficult for China to successfully pursue its preferred hybrid approach: obtaining critical foreign technologies and other inputs, developing indigenously those unavailable from abroad, and integrating the results on a “good enough” basis.
SD: Let’s wrap up with a final, and admittedly awfully broad, question. It’s becoming more expensive for the United States to build and maintain high-end warships. Is this same trend true of China and, whether or not the answer is yes, what are the implications of that for the global balance of power?
AE: For over a decade, China’s military maritime modernization effort (including its shipbuilding output) has affected requirements for USN capabilities, particularly by renewing focus on high-end warfare. This has triggered intense debates concerning strategy, budgets, and force architecture, which remain ongoing. The largest, most capable components of China’s growing Chinese distant-waters fleet will increasingly resemble a smaller version of the USN. China will thus have impressive Far Seas-relevant naval forces second only to those of the United States.
However, Beijing has not yet fully experienced the true long-term cost of sustaining top-tier sea power, which tends to eventually outpace economic growth substantially. This will impose difficult tradeoffs concerning budgets and force structure. In an exceptional achievement for a historically continental power, China has already arrived as a major maritime nation, but will face increasingly difficult choices moving forward. Message to Beijing: welcome to the sea power club; now, be careful what you wish for!
Dr. Andrew S. Erickson is Professor of Strategy in the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute and Associate in Research at Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Erickson is the editor of, and a contributor to, two volumes: Chinese Naval Shipbuilding (Naval Institute Press, 2016) and Proceedings of the 47th History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics (Univelt, 2015). He is coeditor of, and a contributor to, eight volumes; including the remainder of the six-volume Naval Institute Press book series, “Studies in Chinese Maritime Development.” The views expressed here are his alone.
Sally DeBoer is serving as the President of CIMSEC for 2016-2017.
Featured Image: Three Type 052D Luyang III guided missile destroyer (DDG), seen here in various stages of construction, are lined together at the Jiangnan Changxingdao Shipyard. (www.hobbyshanghai.com.cn)