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China: Birth of a Global Force?

China: Birth of a Global Force?

In 2010, Rear Admiral Zhang Huachen, China’s East Sea Deputy Commander, said, “With our naval strategy changing now, we are going from coastal defense to far sea defense.”[1] Over the past 30 years the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has built a defensive navy operating within coastal waters, but in late 2008 the PLAN seemed to be transitioning towards becoming a global naval force—the capability to project power or diplomacy through sustained maritime operations anywhere in the world.

China’s far-sea defense—far-seas operations—comprises the maritime area 1,000 nautical miles beyond its territorial waters.[2] Based on that definition, far seas operations equate to approximately three days’ travel from China’s mainland and require at least six days of total transit time to include at-sea refueling operations. Since late 2008 the PLAN has achieved four significant metrics in the far seas:

  • Task forces deployed to the Gulf of Aden
  • A flotilla of warships operating in the Philippine Sea
  • The “Harmonious Mission” of the ship Peace Ark, and
  • The training ship Zheng He’s worldwide deployment

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Iranian Forces Briefly Seize Tanker in Gulf of Oman

Iranian Forces Briefly Seize Tanker in Gulf of Oman

Motor Tanker (M/T) Wila, a merchant vessel in international waters en-route to the UAE port of Khor Fakkan, in the Gulf of Oman, was boarded by armed Iranian personnel who fast roped aboard the ship from an Iranian Sea King helicopter as it hovered above on Aug. 12, 2020. US Navy Photo

An Iranian special forces team boarded and seized a Liberian tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates for about five hours on Wednesday. The action by Iranian forces drew swift condemnation from the U.S.-led collation created to deter harassment of merchant ships in and out of the Persian Gulf. Read More