China Bases Rescue Ship at Subi Reef

Subi Reef, 2015.
Subi Reef, 2015.

Published Jul 31, 2018 8:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

China said on Monday that it is basing the rescue ship Nanhai Jiu 115 at Subi (Zhubi) Reef, part of the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea.

The Chinese government said that the move shows its commitment to fulfilling its duty in the South China Sea. The vessel is equipped for search and rescue, emergency medical services, firefighting and oil spill cleanup. She entered service in 2010 and has carried out more than 110 rescue missions in the South China Sea, helping more than 1,000 people and more than 60 ships, and has salvaged property worth $1.47 billion, reports China Daily.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China's construction work on the Nansha (Spratly) Islands and reefs is designed to improve the lives of people stationed there and enhance their ability to cope with maritime security threats, and to also to increase public services in the region. He said China is ready to work with other countries in the region to promote cooperation on maritime search and rescue operations.

Since 2013, China has engaged in artificial island-building in the Spratlys, creating seven islands and 3,200 acres of new land. Subi Reef is the largest of China’s seven man-made outposts in the Spratlys. Subi, along with Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, has military infrastructure including runways. Subi, about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from China’s coast, is now home to nearly 400 individual buildings. Some commentators have indicated that it could be a future base for hundreds of People’s Liberation Army marines.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the area.