A hazy photograph of a mysterious Chinese warship is doing the rounds on social media days after J-10C fighter jets, meant for the Pakistan Air Force, were spotted at Chengdu Aerospace Corporation’s factory.
The new image shows the silhouette of a boat with a hilly shoreline dotted with shipyard tower cranes in the background. The description given in the original posts says this is a test boat undergoing trials.
A few days back, an unknown Chinese submarine was spotted in a video. The submarine was seen surfacing in a reservoir in that video posted on Facebook.
Commenting on the new ship, H I Sutton, a naval expert, stated, “Although China has an incredible shipbuilding capacity, with many yards, it seems unlikely that it could be a full-sized warship. Such a development would be hard to hide. But like the recent mystery submarine, China has a proven track record of surprising the world with smaller unknown vessels.”
According to Sutton, the ship resembles the US Navy Zumwalt Class stealth destroyer at first glance. Initial assessments show that it has a wave-piercing bow and a big box-like superstructure. The Zumwalt reference comes from the fact that it has sloping sides.
“However the Chinese vessel may have trimaran outriggers mounted towards the aft of the hull, like the US Navy’s Sea Hunter uncrewed surface vessel (USV),” he added.
It is widely known that China has the capability and resources to build experimental ships. Furthermore, Chinese naval engineers are interested in novel hull designs and have suggested a number of trimaran warships. The new ship could be a test-bed for some of these concepts.
A Copy Of US Navy’s Sea Hunter USV?
China has already built what is seen as a ‘Sea Hunter clone’. That trimaran first surfaced in September 2020. It was manufactured by Jiang Tongfang New Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., a small shipyard on the Yangtze River. This shipyard apparently isn’t normally associated with major PLAN projects.
The unmanned Sea Hunter was intended to be part of the ACTUV (Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel) program. The primary objective of the uncrewed surface vessel (USV) is to detect silent diesel-electric submarines.
The Chinese vessel is somewhat longer and wider than the Sea Hunter. As a result, it may have a greater displacement.
Nuclear submarines are thought to be capable of outrunning the USV due to higher speed. As a result, the US Navy’s own submarine will be mostly unaffected. Nevertheless, countries with diesel submarines, such as Japan, India, and Australia, might be prime markets for this system.
In numerous critical details, the latest vessel closely matches the ‘Sea Hunter’ design, according to Sutton. If the assumption about the trimaran outriggers is correct, then the Chinese design is similar to that of the US vessel. The bow and superstructure of that ship are remarkably similar too.
However, some differences exist between the two. The preceding vessel, in particular, features a characteristic conical radome on the superstructure. As a result, it could represent an ongoing improvement on the previous trimaran USV prototype, the ‘Sea Hunter.’
That vessel does not seem to be affiliated to the Navy (PLAN), but this one could be. This raises the prospect that the new one will be a surface vessel with really no crew. The Chinese Navy, it is said, wants to develop these technologies. It also has a sizable, largely unreported drone boat program.