Here is a further example of the growing capabilities of the Chinese Navy:
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy now has an aircraft carrier, new jet fighters to fly off the flattop and even new submarines and guided-missile destroyers able to protect the refurbished Soviet carrier. And with the successful first sea trials of two new, 590-foot-long fleet oilers — tanker ships designed to keep other vessels fueled, or “replenished,” while sailing long distance — the PLAN could soon be able to deploy all this new hardware beyond coastal waters.
“Replenishment vessel construction rate will be a particularly revealing barometer of the PLAN’s future expeditionary intentions,” wrote Andrew Erickson, an analyst at the U.S. Naval War College. The more new oilers, the farther China will be able to send its new capital ships. Without underway replenishment, most naval vessels can travel only a few thousand miles; with fuel top-offs, they can circle the globe.
The latest, upgraded Qiandaohu-class oilers, also known as Type 903s, were launched at a shipyards in Guangzhou and Shanghai last spring. After additional work, the tankers began sea trials in the China Seas, testing out the vessels’ mechanical systems plus the storage tanks, valves, hoses and other gear for refueling other ships at sea. This week the first of the new Qiandaohus reportedly completed her trials, clearing her for frontline use.
When it comes to prepping new naval vessels for service, nine months is not a long time. Many U.S. vessels take years to go from launch through trials to commissioning. One U.S.-based Chinese military analyst, who blogs under the pseudonym “Coatepeque,” calls the oilers’ speedy trials “impressive.” [Wired.com]
You can read the rest at the link, but it seems to me that China will need to have basing agreements in other countries around the world before their Navy really has a global reach. This probably why the Chinese state run media has already been urging the government to expand their overseas bases. They already have naval bases in Pakistan and Burma and Oman allows Chinese ships to be based out of there for anti-piracy patrols. Thus in the Indian Ocean the Chinese already have strategic influence with their Navy. This is significant first step for the Chinese because they are depended on their energy supplies coming across the Indian Ocean from the Middle East. However, I doubt that the Chinese will be able to any time soon support global patrols with their Navy to the extent the US Navy currently does, but they are definitely appear to be heading in that direction.