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South China Sea: China have deployed a long-term ocean observation platform

Focus on Indo-Pacific


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Chinese scientists have deployed a long-term ocean observation platform in the South China Sea, with continuous video and data captured, the project leader told the Global Times on Monday.

Photo: CAS

Officially, the platform could be used to study deep-sea marine ecology, global climate change, the origin of life and other fields.

The platform was developed by the Qingdao-based Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in East China's Shandong Province, which is the first ocean research institute in China. The research results have been published in the leading scientific journal Deep-Sea Research Part I in March.

The long-term ocean observation platform can use a new controllable model for launching and recovery with the aid of a research vessel and other submarine vehicles, noted Zhang.

Zhang said that a free-fall mode lander can't be adjusted in real time as there is no means of communication if the lander separates from a research vessel. The long-term ocean observation platform can be operated in an online real-time control mode, which can select landing site and adjust the observation parameters during the launching.

Since 2016, the multi-generation deep-sea long-term observation system has been placed in deep-sea cold seep areas of the South China Sea for many times. So far, the system has been placed in deep sea for an accumulative of 1,070 days, according to its developer.

China has proposed the use of an in-situ scientific experiment station in recent years, which takes a deep-sea base station as the center, carrying unmanned submersibles, labs and other platforms to conduct in-situ experiments and exploration, according to the CAS.

It is actually a dual use technology

It must be remembered that all apparently non-military investments from part of Chinese companies, especially state-owned enterprises, provide the PLA with the opportunity to exploit resources foreign civilians for military use.

An example of a commercial network that the PLA could exploit for military purposes is the China Blue Ocean Information Network, a set of sensors designed to improve the monitoring of maritime information, such as ship movement and weather conditions, in seas close to China and in the world's oceans. Between 2016 and 2019, the Chinese state-owned enterprise China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) built its first sensor network in the South China Sea with the approval of the National People's Congress.1920 According to J. Michael Dahm of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, this network was an early demonstration of CETC's broader campaign to build a permanent maritime sensor array with hydrographic survey, radar and communications capabilities in and beyond China's seas. CETC has developed features in these maritime sensors to improve situational awareness, underwater surveillance and response of the China Coast Guard. A 2019 PLA Daily article reported that the already constructed segment of the grid in the South China Sea could “play a major role in construction on the Nansha Islands and Xisha [Spratly and Paracelsus] of China, in the defense of the islands and the coral reefs and in the continuous monitoring of the considered waters”. The CETC intends to cover China's Maritime Silk Road (the investment to enhance maritime connectivity between China, Southeast Asia and Oceania, the Indian Ocean region, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea) with these sensors by 2035 and extend them to the Arctic and Southern Oceans by 2050.

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