Beijing, November 6: China has unveiled a massive ship described as a magic island maker that is Asia's largest dredging vessel. State owned China Daily reported on Saturday, the ship capable of building artificial islands was launched at a port in eastern Jiangsu province.
The designer of the vessel, Marine Design and Research Institute in Shanghai, describes its creation as “a magic island-maker”that could be used to conduct coastal or channel dredging and land reclamation operations at sea, China Daily reported, citing the institute’s statement.
Some local media said the vessel was a “military defense project” which could be used for the construction of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other nations.
The dispute over the area involves the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Earlier, China was reportedly boosting construction on the artificial islands it has built on the Spratly archipelago, where it was preparing to station warplanes and other military hardware.
Washington has been particularly critical of China’s construction activity in the disputed Spratly chain. Beijing has responded by saying that it is operating on its own sovereign territory and thus has the right to deploy military assets there.
The Tiankun will undergo more mooring and sailing tests and is expected to enter service next summer. It is the first fully domestically-built self-propelled dredger of its type in China, as its sister, the largest currently operating dredger in the region, the ‘Tianjin,’ was jointly created by Chinese and German engineers. It can dredge 1,500 cubic meters an hour less than the newly launched vessel from 30 meters beneath the surface.
Video Courtesy: CGTN News