China-made crewed submersible advances maritime research in South China Sea

Updated 2017-12-01 09:01:56 Global Times

China-made crewed vessel capable of diving 4,500 meters

One of the most advanced crewed submersibles in the world was delivered to its base on Thursday ready for advanced research potentially including the South China Sea.

Shenhai Yongshi, China's newest submersible vessel, can achieve a depth of 4,500 meters and is equipped with an advanced, intelligent control system that will empower undersea scientific research for 30 years, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on its official website on Thursday.

"The submersible can greatly advance China's maritime exploration, especially in the South China Sea," Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times.

"It can collect data on undersea geological structures and marine organisms, explore undersea resources and assist environmental protection of the South China Sea," he said.

China will boost maritime scientific research not only to protect the South China Sea, but also to "offer technological assistance in this field to regional countries as it is becoming a maritime power," Chen said.

The new-generation control system of Shenhai Yongshi, or Deep-Sea Worrier, boasts advanced technologies including an auto-pilot and emergency braking.

The advanced technologies can also be applied to military use, Zhang Junshe, a research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times. "The development of a submersible always represents the improvement of a country's technological and economic strength as it requires excellent navigation systems in the complex undersea environment and materials to resist the massive undersea hydraulic pressure," he said on Thursday.

Submersible control system researcher Zhu Puqiang was quoted by CCTV as saying "Shenhai Yongshi is able to move in the sea automatically. The system will play an important role in controlling China's domestically developed manned deep-sea submersible."

How to slow the vehicle to avoid a collision posed one of the most serious technological challenges in designing and building Shenhai Yongshi, Zhang said.

In the event of a leak, the control system shuts down the hydraulics to protect the submersible.

The navigation system can locate an object smaller than 50 centimeters 3,500 meters down, test pilot Zhao Bing told the website channel.

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