Threat to Taiwan: China loads civilian RO-RO ferries with tanks
PANAGYURISHTE ($1=1.02 Bulgarian Levs) — China prepares to invade Taiwan. The signals of such action are constantly increasing. At the end of September, BulgarianMilitary.com wrote that Chinese President and Central Military Commission chief Xi Jinping ordered China’s People’s Liberation Army [PLA] should focus on preparing to take part in actual military operations.
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Australia also monitors the behavior of the Chinese navy around Taiwanese waters. An interesting recurring trend has been noted over the past 12 months – Chinese civilian RO-RO ferries are being loaded with military equipment. Tanks, ground armored vehicles, and amphibious assault vehicles.
About RO-RO ferries
Roll-On, Roll-Off [RO-RO] ships are a British idea. The reason for their existence is the infamous Dunkirk evacuation. After this key historical event, London realized that it needed ships to quickly load and unload cargo.
The difference between civilian RO-RO ferries and amphibious assault ships is the ramp. The warship ramp opens even when the ship is at sea. In this way, all small ships, boats, drones, and hovercraft can immediately begin landing.
An analysis based on video footage shows that China is improving the functionality of the civilian ferry ramp. Additional support beams and hydraulic systems are noted, which must cope with the lateral forces. These lateral forces come from tidal waves.
RO-RO in military maneuvers
The Australian journalist Jamie Seidel has noticed some interesting behavior on civilian ferries in recent months. They are actively participating in Chinese military exercises around Taiwanese waters. Seidel says that in the past 12 months, international analysts are beginning to connect the dots. But according to him, it is the use of civilian ferries that tells us that China is preparing to invade Taiwan.
On August 2, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Seidel writes that the international community was engaged in monitoring the actions of the Chinese military in response to this visit. But almost no one has paid attention to the civil and commercial fleet. “Airplanes swarmed the skies. Battleships swam the oceans. Troops and tanks rushed to training beaches. But quietly and in the background, three huge commercial ferries strangely veered off course to support these maneuvers,” Seidel analyzed.
If we go back two years, in the year 2020, the Chinese civilian RO-RO ferry makes a landing on a civilian beach. It was the 15,000-ton civilian ferry Bang Chui Dao. Several amphibious vehicles have been launched from it.
Bang Chui Dao
According to Western analysts, measuring the area and displacement of Bang Chui Dao, the ferry can carry up to 50 landing vehicles. That’s an entire mechanized infantry battalion. US Naval Academy maritime studies instructor Connor Kennedy suggests that 62 other Chinese civilian ferries may have been “upgraded” in the same way as the Bang Chui Dao.
There is evidence that China uses civilian RO-RO ferries. Video footage shows this, although China took them down after they were published, practical users managed to do the same before the Chinese military. This footage shows another RO-RO civilian ferry loaded with tanks. The cargo area of this ferry is 20,000 square meters. It’s all full of tanks.
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