Fast and furious: China’s shipbuilding at a mammoth scale

Once a sleeping giant, China today is the world’s second largest economy–the leading manufacturer of consumer goods and military equipment–a dramatic turn-around that alarms many Westerners. China’s fragile relationship with it’s pacific neighbors like Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan caused China to beefed up military presence in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, not to mention it’s trade war with the US.

The weak legitimacy of the Communist Party after the way China’s President Xi Jinping handled COVID-19 and its leaders’ sense of vulnerability could cause China to behave rashly in a crisis involving Japan or Taiwan, and bring it into a military conflict with the United States

China’s military might has grown after the launch of a 40,000-ton amphibious assault warship, built in months, raising fears that it is eyeing new territories in the Asia-Pacific region.

Some five months after the first pictures emerged of its keel under construction, China has launched its first Type 075 landing helicopter dock amphibious assault ship, or LHD, at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai.

The Type 075 can carry helicopters, landing craft, hovercraft, tanks and drones
The Type 075 can carry helicopters, landing craft, hovercraft, tanks and drones. ( Source ASIAWIRE)

The Type 075 warship will carry more than a dozen helicopters as well as landing craft, hovercraft, tanks, drones and hundreds of marines.

It is the latest sign that Beijing’s military modernisation programme, especially expansion of the navy, is aimed at rivalling US forces and hardware. In particular China’s amphibious warship programme, which began in 2011, is seen as an attempt to compete with the US navy’s Wasp class.

Other countries in the region including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore are engaged in territorial disputes or have frayed relations with the Asian giant, China.

The second Type 075 (Yushen)-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious assault ship on order for China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) was launched at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai on 22 April: a day before the 71st anniversary of the establishment of the PLAN.

A type 075 is on fire. Building ships at fast pace can cause unexpected incidents.

Tugs pulled the ship from the dock in which it was built and manoeuvred it to a berth on the Huangpu river adjacent to the first Type 075, which entered the water on 25 September 2019, making the interval between the launch of China’s first and second LHD just over six months.

The Type 075 is about 235 m long, with a 36 m wide flight deck and an estimated displacement of about 35,000 tonnes, making it smaller than the US Navy’s 45,000 tonne America-class landing helicopter assault (LHA) vessels.

The type 075 vessel will significantly increase the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s amphibious warfare capabilities, and the China State Shipbuilding Corporation is already building a second example.  

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Members of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy stand at attention during the launch ceremony of type 075.

It is not clear how many Marines the Type 075 will be able to accommodate, but its full complement will likely be much larger than that of the Type 071, which can carry between 600 and 800 troops, as well as their ground vehicles and other equipment.

The new LHD will have a dedicated hangar deck below its flight deck and will reportedly be able to carry helicopters and amphbious of various types, including the Z-8 and the smaller Z-9 utility and light attack helicopters.

For self-defense, the type 075 is fitted with two H/PJ-11 30mm close-in weapon systems (CIWS), also known as the Type 730, and a pair of FL-3000N point defense surface-to-air missile systems.

Meanwhile the type 056 Jiangdao-class corvettes being built by four Chinese shipbuilders to replace the ageing Type 037 fleet of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

The PLA Navy plans to procure 24 corvettes in the first batch. It currently operates ten Type 056 ships, while the remaining vessels are in various stages of construction. The type 056 has been exported to Bangladesh and Nigeria. A total of 44 hull were built for Chinese Navy by four shipyards.

The Type 056 (NATO code name: Jiangdao class) is a class of light frigate designed for patrol, escort, and other general roles in coastal waters. Over 44 hulls in the class have been launched at four shipyards since 2012 for both domestic use and foreign customers. An improved Type 056A with enhanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities was introduced in 2015.

The Jiangdao Class corvette can be deployed in patrol, escort, search-and-rescue, surveillance, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) protection, electronic warfare (EW), fishery resources protection, anti-aircraft warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) operations.

The corvette is armed with four YJ-83 (C-803) sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles, an AJK-10 (HQ-10) surface-to-air missile launcher and two 324mm triple torpedo tubes. The AJK-10 launcher can fire up to eight missiles.

The corvette is equipped with an H/PJ-26 76mm main gun and is also fitted with two H/PJ-17 30mm dual-mode remote-controlled weapon systems, which can be operated automatically or manually.

A type 054A is on patrol.

The Type 054/A (NATO Codename Jiangkai I/II) frigate is a Chinese multi-role warship that were commissioned in the People’s Liberation Army Navy Surface Force in 2005. They superseded the Type 053H3 frigates. China has built 30 type 054A and two type 054 frigate. The type 054A has been exported to Pakistan. The type 054A is capable of performing anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare.

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