The Chinese Communists had little need for a naval force prior to their recent civil war against the Nationalist government. Their loosely-knit guerrilla armies long ago proved themselves effective agents in the bitter struggle waged in the vast inland regions of the country. And war on the sea was a distant and unfamiliar concept to Red leaders and men alike.
Developments in early 1949, however, brought about a marked change in this traditional land-bound doctrine. Red field commanders, launching large scale offensive operations against the wavering armies of Chiang Kai-shek were for the first time running into major difficulties. Too often their massed forces piled-up one after another, stopped cold by a large river or lake. Too often encircled Nationalists would make an effective withdrawal down rivers or be completely evacuated from an isolated defensive seacoast pocket.