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Monday, April 11, 2005

A Containership Amphibious Assault Ship Chinese Navy?

According to Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr. in The American Thinker, there is the possibility of the use of large Chinese container ships in an invasion of Taiwan scenario:
China is busily building a fleet of the largest container ships the world has ever seen. That is a boon for its export trade and economic efficiency. But like the Trojan Horse of ancient Greek civilization, the fleet could potentially be used by China in a spectacular, lightening invasion of Taiwan. Could the hollow hulls and empty decks of Chinese container ships carry infantry and mechanized divisions for a devastating attack on Taiwan, securing the island before the U.S. could respond?
Read the rest.

Here's an article on a large Chinese container ship:
"CSCL ASIA", the world¡¯s largest 8500-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) container vessel owned by China Shipping Container Lines Co. Ltd, succeeded on August 15 its maiden voyage and was assigned to transporting between Ningbo, east China's Zhejiang province to the western coast of the United States.

334 meters long and 42.6 meters wide, "CSCL ASIA" is a most state-of-the-art super container vessel with the world¡¯s largest capacity and a speed of 25.2 knots (one knot is about 1.853 kilometers). The ship can hold 8, 500 TEUs and is equipped with 700 fridge plugs. Loaded 1, 500 standard containers, "CSCL ASIA" started its expedition to the western coast of the United States, which was a success.

Sources say the ship is the first of the five 8, 500-standard-container vessels specially built by China Shipping Container Lines Co., Ltd, the other four of which will be put into operation in the next one or two years. It is the first time for state-owned sea transportation enterprises to develop and run such super container vessels.
Here's photo of the CSCL ASIA:

Looks like an ordinary, but great big, container ship to me.

Well, maybe it could be done. But there are a lot of "ifs."

Update: An economic (and an environmental) argument for these and even larger container ships here.
Of course, there can be no justification for the introduction of ULCSs without the necessary volume of trade to absorb the additional capacity and keep the ships fully utilised. The demand for containerisation, however, continues unabated, and it is this rapid demand growth which is underpinning the vast amount of new tonnage currently being ordered.
Is China simply looking forward to increased trade with the US with these ships?

Update2: Conversion of and uses for US converted container ships for the Navy's prepositioned ships Note the cranes installed on the US conversion in the picture below, allowing for self-offloading. Note that the Chinese ship lacks such cranes, making it dependent on shore cranes for offloading containers.

More on the containership concept here:
The effect of containerisation on ships and shipping has been far reaching.  A container can be lifted on or off a ship in a fraction of the time taken to load or discharge conventional cargo.  As containers are of a standard size, a ship can be built to carry just containers.  Its holds have guides for the containers to be slotted in easily.  Because containers are loaded very quickly, time in port is kept to just a few hours, compared with days or weeks with a conventional cargo liner.  Operators of container ships have built on this rapid turnround, and made sure their ships were as large and as fast as possible.  As a result, one modern container ship can do the work of perhaps 20 conventional cargo liners.  
Container ships can be easily recognised.  They usually have many containers stacked high on their decks.  Most have no cargo gear, relying entirely on the huge cranes at the big ports they serve. 

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