Chinese state-run media reported on Wednesday that sea trials of the first ship of a new class of amphibious assault warships for the country’s navy appear to have started.
The first ship of the Type 075 class was launched at a shipyard in Shanghai in September last year.
The Global Times reported on Wednesday "The presumed maiden voyage will likely test the amphibious assault ship's main systems, including propulsion, navigation and communication..."
The Global Times noted "It usually takes a new warship a year or two to formally join military service after its first sea trial, military analysts said. This means the first Type 075 will likely be commissioned into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in 2021 or 2022."
The Type 075 class of ships are among the largest amphibious assault ships in the world, displacing approximately 40,000 tonnes and are about 250 metres long. The ship has a large flight deck, enabling it to carry up to 30 transport and attack helicopters. It also has a 'well deck' in its hull, which allows it to launch hovercraft and other amphibious vessels capable of ferrying tanks and troops to shore. A second Type 075 class ship was launched in Shanghai in April this year. According to the US Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence, China is also building a third Type 075 class amphibious assault warship.
In terms of size, the Type 075 class ships are the largest amphibious assault ships in the world, excluding similar vessels of the US Navy. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Type 075 provides "China with greater capabilities for asserting their territorial claims in the East and South China Sea, as well as executing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, anti-piracy, and non-combatant evacuation operations". Experts have warned China is improving its amphibious warfare capability to prepare for the eventuality of military operations in Taiwan or disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The Global Times report itself noted "this type of Chinese warship is widely expected to play a major role around the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea".
China has also inducted at least five Type 071 class amphibious assault ships in the past decade. These ships are smaller in size compared with the Type-075 and displace around 25,000 tonnes each.