China today said it will deploy a new rescue ship capable of conducting air, sea and underwater searches simultaneously in the disputed South China Sea. The ship, Nanhaijiu 102, is the most advanced rescue vessel in the area and will play a role in emergencies, the Chinese Ministry of Transport said.The all-weather, high-powered rescue ship designed and built by China, is 127 metres long and 16 metres wide, with displacement of 7,300 tonnes and range of 16,000 nautical miles, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
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The choice of placement of the vessel in the South China Sea is significant as China is firming up its hold on the area with artificial islands.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea.The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan have made counter claims.
Carrying a towing system and autonomous underwater vehicle that can dive as deep as 6,000 metres, the ship is the country’s first rescue ship that can conduct air, sea and underwater searches at the same time.
The ministry said the ship, which can rescue 200 people at a time, is designed for bad sea conditions and is suitable for the refueling and landing of helicopters.China has 74 special rescue ships, among which 31 are in southern sea areas. In addition, the country has 20 rescue helicopters, the Ministry said.