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Lighthouses to shine on the South China Sea

Updated: May 27,2015 9:26 AM

China has begun to construct two multifunctional lighthouses in the South China Sea to improve navigational safety, the Ministry of Transport said on May 26.

The ministry hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a lighthouse on Huayang Reef of the Nansha Islands in the morning of May 26, according to a statement sent to China Daily.

Another lighthouse will be built on Chigua Reef. Upon completion, the facilities will provide navigational services to passing vessels, significantly improving navigational safety in the South China Sea, the statement said.

The two 50-meter-high lighthouses, with lanterns having a diameter of 4.5 meters, are designed to have a light range of 22 nautical miles (44.7 km).

The South China Sea is an important international maritime transport route as well as a major fishing ground. A large number of fishing vessels operate in this area all year round. The high concentration of vessels in this area has led to many maritime accidents, the ministry said, adding that lighthouses are vital facilities to ensure safety.

“Some waterways in the sea are well known for their bad conditions, but there are almost no maritime assistance facilities there,” said Chen Xuesong, a researcher at the People’s Liberation Army’s Naval Military Studies Research Institute.

“This is especially challenging to fishing ships-large vessels have advanced radar that can detect submerged reefs or other dangerous situations-but they can only rely on visual observation as well as some small devices that have limited detection range.”

Even large cargo ships will need navigational guidance when sailing through narrow waterways or in bad weather, according to Chen.