The humble jellyfish has become one of the biggest threats to the Chinese navy's aircraft carriers so much so that scientists are now developing a special weapon to deal with the problem.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a new weapon called the "jellyfish shredder" has recently been put to the test by Beijing.
The system destroys the fish by chopping them into thousands of pieces. It comprises of a net, which is several hundred meters long and wide. The system is towed by a tugboat ahead of the aircraft carrier, the report said.
Scientists, who are working on the anti-jellyfish mechanism, said the system would give a "peace of mind" to the aircraft carriers' crew.
Usually, a large number of floating jellyfish – commonly seen in Chinese waters – can get sucked into a vessel's water intake pipes. And, this can clog the cooling systems and eventually bring the ship to a complete halt. In 2006, the USS Ronald Reagan was paralysed by a swarm of such sea creatures after they were sucked into the massive ship's condensers.
It could take several hours, or even days, to clear the sticky jellyfish from the pipes and filters.
China currently has one aircraft carrier, and three others are said to be under construction.
"What happened to the American aircraft carrier can also happen to Chinese aircraft carriers," Tan Yehui, a researcher with the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, told SCMP.
However, there have been some environmental concerns over the new system as the jellyfish-killing machine leaves the water behind murky with the decomposing matter after it sails through. The creatures, which wash up ashore, could even sting bathers at the seashore and will be a serious health hazard, researchers warn.