China launches massive amphibious assault warship

The Type-075 will be the largest amphibious ships in the world after US Navy vessels

China amphibious assault ship The launch of the first Type-075 amphibious assault vessel | China's Ministry of National Defense

China announced the launch of a massive amphibious assault ship at a shipyard in Shanghai on Wednesday, marking the rapid progress of the project since first images of its construction emerged six months ago.

The vessel, which has been referred to as the Type-075 class of landing helicopter dock (LHD), is estimated to have a maximum displacement of around 40,000 tonnes and a length of nearly 250 metres. Experts claim the Type-075 will be the largest amphibious assault ships in the world after the US Navy's Wasp and America classes. An LHD is similar to an aircraft carrier and can carry helicopters to transport troops and equipment and also has a large 'well deck' to launch hovercraft and small vessels to transport personnel and even battle tanks.

China's Ministry of National Defense issued a vaguely worded release on the launch of the ship. It explained the launch of the ship marks “one of the most important stages in a ship's construction because once a ship is launched, it means that its major structures have been readied and major work of the entire construction project has been done.”

China's Global Times reported the “amphibious assault ship is the second complex warship built by China, after its aircraft carrier. The immense design, construction and cost allow only a few countries including France and Japan to develop such a warship...”

The ship was built at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai. The same shipyard has built at least seven older amphibious assault vessels for the Chinese Navy, called the Type-071. The Type-071 class displaces over 20,000 tonnes; China is also building a ship of the same class for sale to Thailand.

The South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday that China's first batch of Type-075 class ships will consist of three vessels. The ship is expected to enter service in about two years' time.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies estimates the Type-075 would be able to carry up to 30 helicopters, which would be meant for troop transport and attack roles. Its far greater size, compared to the Type-071, would give China the ability to project greater offensive power in the disputed South China Sea and even operations against Taiwan.

In addition, a ship like the Type-075 would be useful for humanitarian missions in the aftermath of disasters similar to the Asian tsunami of 2004 and volcanic eruptions. China's response to the 2004 tsunami was considered ineffective, compared with the response of the US, Japan and India to the crisis in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Maldives.