Major Chinese shipyard rapidly expands in size amid military buildup

One of China's most prominent harbors for naval shipbuilding has rapidly expanded in the past decade, new sa...

Posted: Dec 21, 2018 1:37 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 1:37 PM

One of China's most prominent harbors for naval shipbuilding has rapidly expanded in the past decade, new satellite images show, amid a massive military modernization push by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Jiangnan Shipyard, located in Shanghai at the mouth of the Yangtze River, was only opened in 2008 but it has already increased by 64%, according to satellite imagery analyzed by Washington-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Asia

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Center for Strategic and International Studies

China

Continents and regions

East Asia

Marine transportation

Marine vessels

Military

Military vessels

Political advocacy groups

Political organizations

Transportation and warehousing

North America

The Americas

United States

Armed forces

Government organizations - US

US Department of Defense

US federal departments and agencies

US Navy

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Politics

US federal government

"Jiangnan is responsible for some of China's most advanced warships ... The assets produced at the shipyard form an important part of the PLAN's (People's Liberation Army Navy's) modernization," Matthew Funaiole, fellow at the CSIS's China Power Project, told CNN.

It comes amid a concerted campaign by Beijing, pushed by Xi, to rapidly expand and update China's navy, with 32 ships commissioned in 2016 and 2017 alone, according to US government reports.

Speaking from the bridge of the destroyer Changsha in April, Xi said the task of building a strong navy for China had "never been as urgent" and pledged to turn the PLAN into a "world-class force."

At the Jiangnan Shipyard, satellite imagery has captured some of the PLAN's newest, most advanced vessels under construction, including a number of Type 055 guided-missile destroyers -- Asia's largest, most sophisticated and most lethal combat ships.

The rapid rise of China's military and vessel productions stands in stark comparison to the US. Although the US has a clear advantage in the quality, if not quantity, of their vessels, its fleet has faced a steady stream of bad news in recent years.

Two deadly at-sea collisions in the Asia-Pacific have damaged the navy's reputation, while US government reports claim it will take "decades" to fix shipyards, which are in a "poor condition."

"The ships being commissioned by China are increasingly of modern design ... China's navy is also now larger than the active fleet of the US Navy. The gap may continue to widen in the coming years," Funaiole said.

CNN contacted the Chinese government for comment for this article.

Rapid growth

One of China's oldest shipyards, Jiangnan was moved from central Shanghai to the island it now occupies, just outside the city, beginning in 2005. The original location first began operating in 1865.

It is only one of a number of large-scale construction yards for Chinese naval vessels, which are being churned out at a steady pace.

When it was first observed in 2011, the Jiangnan shipyard measured 7 square kilometers (2.7 miles), CSIS said. In 2018, it measures 11.5 square kilometers (4.4 square miles).

While the commercial section of the port has remained almost unchanged in the past seven years, the military sections of Jiangnan have undergone a rapid change.

According to CSIS, two additional production areas were completed, while construction of a new fabrication facility and possibly a wet basin is underway.

Over the course of 2018, CSIS said it observed significant ship-building and outfitting activity throughout the Jiangnan facility, including up to five Type 052D destroyers and at least two Type 055s.

"The Type 055 is larger and more powerful than most US, Japanese and South Korean destroyers," Rand Corp. senior analyst Timothy Heath told CNN in July.

Among the other vessels spotted in Jiangnan was China's home-grown icebreaker, the Xue Long 2, which has yet to be completed but will be a key part of Beijing's growing Arctic ambitions.

Conspicuously missing was any trace of China's second domestically produced aircraft carrier, and third in total, which was rumored to be under construction in Jiangnan.

"There are certainly new facilities at Jiangnan, but it's too early to tell if this is the construction site of the Type 002 ... This is something that should be monitored throughout 2019," CSIS's Funaiole told CNN.

US reports paint grim picture

While China is rapidly ramping up its naval capabilities, US government reports cast doubts on the US Navy's ability to build its fleet or even maintain the one it has.

A 2017 US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the US Navy's shipyard facilities and equipment were in poor condition, creating a backlog of restoration and maintenance that will take at least 19 years to clear.

A GAO report released on December 12 says maintenance on US warships is chronically late -- only 30% has been completed on schedule since 2012 -- "leading to thousands of days that ships were unavailable for training and operations."

And it's getting worse. Statistics show that for destroyers, cruisers and submarines, the past year has seen the poorest performance of the seven covered in the report.

As for US warship construction, the Navy's 30-year plan calls for a fleet of 355 combat vessels by 2048, up from 285 at present.

But an October report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says to meet that goal, the US Navy would need a shipbuilding budget 80% higher than the average it has received for the past 30 years, something highly improbable in a time of massive deficits.

The CBO also points out the navy would need to extend the life of its destroyers and some nuclear-powered submarines -- a decade longer than planned -- to meet its 355-ship goal. But the problem with the shipyards remains.

Still, not all analysts are ready to cede naval superiority to Beijing.

Despite the Chinese fleet's larger numbers, the US still builds bigger and better ships than China, analysts Ian Livingston and Michael O'Hanlon wrote on the Brookings Institution blog in September.

"If the United States Navy valued number of ships above all else, it could build more small boats with the same budget. But it does not. It deliberately values the size (and quality, and armament) of vessels over their sheer number," they wrote.

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 29°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 34°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 29°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 29°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 28°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 685321

Reported Deaths: 8391
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby761671128
Davidson70706661
Knox38646393
Hamilton34556326
Rutherford33114283
Unassigned22759126
Williamson21364138
Sumner18205230
Out of TN1612079
Wilson14405155
Montgomery14367149
Sullivan12577211
Washington11889191
Blount11887124
Maury10941123
Bradley1075190
Sevier10461108
Putnam9931136
Madison9099178
Robertson761885
Hamblen6954109
Anderson6759102
Greene6569108
Tipton619065
Gibson5630111
Coffee560681
Cumberland537872
Dickson534678
Bedford532086
Roane519179
Carter5091112
Lawrence507569
McMinn506673
Warren497553
Loudon493750
Jefferson474975
Dyer473682
Monroe455162
Hawkins444968
Franklin410758
Obion399478
Fayette396251
Rhea381556
Lincoln378344
Marshall343536
Cocke342856
Weakley339448
Cheatham335230
Henderson332056
Campbell323940
Giles321071
White310043
Hardeman308752
Carroll307859
Hardin297647
Lauderdale293131
Macon287350
Wayne260719
Henry260358
Overton252942
DeKalb241741
Haywood239745
McNairy238142
Smith230527
Trousdale228714
Marion227731
Scott225231
Hickman222734
Fentress212531
Claiborne210129
Grainger208135
Johnson201532
Morgan188614
Crockett180338
Bledsoe174110
Chester173237
Unicoi166843
Cannon157019
Lake155319
Decatur147226
Polk142817
Grundy139320
Union138721
Sequatchie136518
Humphreys132617
Benton131935
Lewis127220
Meigs114016
Stewart105220
Jackson103721
Perry94725
Houston93922
Clay93726
Moore7959
Pickett67619
Van Buren6587
Hancock4026

Community Events