China has launched a gigantic “mothership” to launch swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles for maritime reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
Named the Zhu Hai Yun, the vessel is reportedly equipped with an advanced artificial intelligence operating system for semi-autonomous operation.
According to manufacturer Huangpu Wenchong Shipping Company, the megaship can undertake “three-dimensional dynamic observation” of targets using unmanned aircraft, boats, and submersibles.
A South China Morning Post report stated that the vessel’s features and capabilities also make it a “powerful ocean research tool.”
“The intelligent, unmanned ship … will bring revolutionary changes for ocean observation,” Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory director Chen Dake said.
In addition to launching drone swarms, the Zhu Hai Yun can be employed as a hub for other unmanned weapons and surveillance systems.
China christened a remarkable new 290-foot ship last week – the world's first semi-autonomous drone carrier. It'll carry, launch, recover and co-ordinate the actions of more than 50 other autonomous aerial, surface and underwater vehicles. pic.twitter.com/CvxKUwhYcQ
— SM Ali Abbas Bukhari (@smalinaqvi05) May 25, 2022
In July 2021, Huangpu Wenchong Shipping Company began constructing the ship in Guangzhou City, northwest of Hong Kong.
The Zhu Hai Yun measures 290 feet (88 meters) long and 20 feet (6 meters) high.
The vessel has a wide deck for carrying various platforms and can sail at 18 knots (33.3 kilometers/20.7 miles per hour).
When navigating ports, a crew can control the vessel by remote control or manually onboard for monitoring.
The Zhu Hai Yun is expected to be delivered to the Chinese Navy by the end of this year.
Boosting Maritime Defense
The recent launch is one of many recent investments China has made in its maritime defense capabilities.
Earlier this year, the Asian nation announced that its second Type 055 warship, the “Lhasa,” is combat-ready after intensive maritime drills.
China has also reportedly created many facilities to practice naval ship targeting with long-range ballistic missiles.
This month, satellite imagery showed that the Chinese Navy had built mockups of a Taiwanese port and military vessel to serve as targets for its high-powered weapons.