China has has unveiled a massive island-building vessel, which has been called “a magic island-maker” by its designer and is considered the most powerful vessel of its type in Asia, the state media reported.
Named Tian Kun Hao, the ship is reported to have a deck the size of nine basketball courts and be capable of dredging up to 6,000 cubic meters an hour and digging as deep as 35 meters under the sea floor.
The ship, capable of building artificial islands of the sort the country has constructed in the contested South China Sea, was launched last Friday at a port in eastern Jiangsu province, according to China Daily.
The Marine Design and Research Institute in Shanghai, which designed the vessel, described it as a “magic island-maker” on Saturday.
Tian Kun Hao is funded and designed by Tianjin Dredging Co Ltd, associated with China Communication Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) and was built by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co Ltd.
The boat is the much larger version of the ship China used to clean sweep the islets and reefs in the South China sea from corals, mud and dredged sand for transforming them into artificial islands which could be used for setting up military installations.
Once the testing is finished which would be by next June, the ship would then be the most powerful of its sort in the entire Asian region according to the newspaper.
During the past five years, China has used similar vessels to create a string of strategic islands to support its claims to 85 per cent of the sea. Beijing has faced criticism from neighbors and outside countries alike over its massive island-building activities in the contested South China Sea.
The meaning of the three Chinese characters - Tian, Kun, Hao: Tian is “sky”. Kun denotes a huge mythical fish that becomes a gigantic bird whose wings are like clouds all over the sky. Hao is, literally, “number” or “mark, or designation”. Taken together, they pertain to “The Ship Called Sky Kun”. So very apt for a super machine that has been dubbed “The Magic Island Maker” or “Asia’s most powerful island maker”.