Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) satellites reveal China’s survey ship activities that could start diplomatic wars

According to reports from OSINT satellite images, China has deployed a survey ship in the Eastern Indian Ocean. As Xiang Yang Hong 03, this ship is collecting data on water and currents properties such as salinity. The ship is currently carrying out these activities on the Ocean region west of the Indonesian island Sumatra.

This ship is one of the many survey ships belonging to China, thought to be carrying out dubious activities by operating gliders beneath the ocean to map the ocean floor. “The suspicion is that as well as conducting civilian research, these ships may be gathering information for naval planners- currents, bathymetry, the salinity of the water- which are all relevant to submarine warfare,” explained H. I Sutton, OSINT’s defense analyst. “The eastern Indian Ocean is likely to be of particular interest to the Chinese Navy as they expand their submarine capabilities,” said Sutton. “The data from these surveys may help submarines navigate or improve their chances of remaining undetected.”

Sutton recently published an article on what could be cooking with China’s survey activities. According to the article, China’s activities have stirred controversy, where other countries are accusing the country of ‘running dark’ with no capability of broadcasting its location in foreign waters. Further reports claim this particular ship, the Xiang Yang Hong 03, has visited this area more than once. It is also not the only survey ship by the Chinese government. China’s activities are a plot to study America’s sensor networks that detect submarines on foreign waters. “These are designed to track Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean. Naturally, this cannot be confirmed,” said Sutton.

In November 2020, it was reported that Chinese Survey ships were deployed in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters. The Indian Navy noted these activities and released a note saying this would bring rivalry between the two nations. “Such unencumbered and suspicious activity within Sri Lanka’s waters will surely raise the hackles of other nations in the region and also has the potential to upset the delicate maritime balance in the IOR (Indian Ocean Rising),” the note stated.

Other Chinese survey ships carrying out similar activities are Xiang Yang Hong 06, 01, 03, and 19. They are controlled by China’s State of Oceanic Administration (SOA). They gather information about water currents and other water properties. This data is thought to be civilian-defense skeptical and may indicate preparations for future submarine warfare. The gliders deployed in Xiang Yang Hong 03 were the Sea Wing type, similar to those in Indonesian waters. “This raises the possibility that as well as the Xiang Yong Hong 06, other Chinese ships may be deploying the gliders. It is difficult to determine the launch point for the gliders. But it is not a great leap to suggest that China has deployed more in the Eastern Indian Ocean,” Sutton said.