China's People Liberation Army's (PLA) South China Sea Fleet said it has established its first marine salvage and rescue squadron, which it expects will significantly improve the Navy's combat ability, Chinese military analysts said on Thursday.
The new South China Sea Fleet salvage and rescue squadron is a part of the latest round of reforms, the PLA's official website, 81.cn, reported on Thursday, quoting Ke Hehai, the political commissar of the unit.
This new marine rescue unit gives the PLA Navy two of these units now - the PLA South and North China Sea Fleet salvage and rescue squadrons.
The North China Sea unit used to be the sole one of its kind in the field. It was in charge of all search and rescue operations all across the PLA's naval jurisdictions so its abilities were hampered and its reach stretched rather thin.
The South China Sea rescue unit will mainly deploy rescue craft, rescue equipment, and divers to respond to any emergency, to minimize losses in accidents and protect marine engineers, although it can be applied to other functions.
For example, the squadron is also responsible for unexpected rescues at sea over a range of distances, and for emergency rescue efforts on land and sea.
The PLA Navy's mission area has been expanding, so it was almost impossible for it to command only one such rescue team to provide a speedy response, a military expert, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Thursday.
He added that the PLA South China Sea Fleet has convenient access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, and this new squadron can greatly increase its defense ability along coastal area and at sea, as well as in combat.