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China deploys remotely operated vehicles for mine countermeasures

The PLAN has been deploying remotely operated vehicles alongside its Wozang-class vessels (pictured) to enhance mine countermeasure operations. (Chinese Ministry of National Defense)

The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been experimenting with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that can support mine countermeasure (MCM) operations.

The PLAN's Northern Theater Command explored “new patterns of unmanned integrated minesweeping procedures” using two ROVs in a recent exercise conducted in the Yellow Sea (West Sea), state-owned newspaper Global Times reported in mid-July.

During the exercise, the ROVs were deployed alongside the PLAN's Type 082II (Wozang)-class MCM vessel, Huimin , and two motorboats. The flotilla was tasked with clearing an area of sea mines in a simulated wartime scenario, Global Times said.

According to Global Times, the two ROVs were deployed to comb the area for underwater targets using their side-scan sonar systems. The data collected by the ROVs were relayed in real time to the Huimin .

“After building a database on the sea mines, the Huimin deployed its mine neutralisation vehicle and sent frogmen to remove the mines,” Global Times said.

Janes analysis of a video broadcast of the exercise by the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) indicates that the ROVs are tethered. The video shows four soldiers working together to bring out each ROV to the deck and prepare them for launch.

The ROVs are propelled by two thrusters and have at least two additional thrusters for manoeuvring.

Janes research revealed that images of these ROVs – in service with the PLAN – have earlier surfaced on China-focused internet forums. Janes

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