Unconventional Naval Expansion

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If you lack the navy and coast guard to patrol the sea areas that you claim as territorial, how do you retain positive control? China is thinking “out of the box” and it makes some sense.

(Reuters) According to official media, more than 50,000 Chinese fishing boats have been outfitted with China’s Beidou satellite navigation system, which gives them a direct link to the Chinese coastguard. The program is an indication of China’s increasing financial support for fishermen as they sail deeper into Southeast Asian waters. Reuters indicated that Chinese also are providing fuel subsidies so that fishermen can sail farther into the South China Sea.

The Chinese fishing fleet is not just an economic asset. In times of crisis, it is a paramilitary force that comes under the direct control of the armed forces. Fishing boats have harassed US naval ships on occasion and armed fishing boats had key tasks in the Chinese naval maneuvers during the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis.
The new systems are part of the program for upgrading military control of the fishing fleets. The boats receive weapons, ammunition, depth charges or mines and sailing orders when militarized. In peacetime, they provide a continuous flow of intelligence to the coast guard and the navy.
When you consider the Chinese territorial expansion aspirations into the Spratley and Senkaku Islands, adding 50,000 fishing boats to the naval cadre is no small thing. 
It’s one of those things that keeps Japanese Naval Officers up at night.

13 thoughts on “Unconventional Naval Expansion

  1. I remember, in the mid to late 60's, Russian "fishing boats" floating near every major harbor in Asia. When we passed close to them, we waved. They were a sullen lot. Guess that was because the only place they could go for shore leave was North Vietnam.

  2. Makes a lot of sense and doesn't break the bank to implement either. They are definitely intent on increasing their footprint in the Pacific.

  3. And when they went ashore, there was always a zampolit (political cadre) around to watch them. Most Russian sailors would screw a pile of rocks if they thought there was a snake in it – and it is reflected by the quality of women who crew Russian trawlers. Shore leave in Haiphong doesn't seem very appealing does it? Cuba, on the other hand, could be a lot more fun.

    Bottom line, being a Soviet sailor in that era had to be dismal in all respects. Thus VODKA.

  4. And the blue hull, white uppers are NOT fishing boats… Just sayin… (No personal experience or anything, they don't like Ritz crackers, but love Marlboros)

  5. But John Kerry says those satellite systems are only used to track weather. I believe him. Why would the US government lie?

    (OK, don't really answer that. I think we know the reasons.)

  6. Chinese trawlers…you suspect them of doing other than fishing? I'm sure that you rigged more than one of those b@st@rds in your time at sea.

  7. The government is only here to help me. I love Big Brother – and I'm sticking with my story.

  8. Yep, they were 'blue maru' as opposed to the normal 'rust maru'… sigh Now I'm going to be dreaming about upright sequences again…

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