A newbuilt ship of an entirely new type for the PLA Ground Forces is currently running sea trials in the Sea of Bohai. It was launched at the Army’s Songliao Shipard at Dalian in August 2013.
Officially described as an Army Ro/Ro Transport, it is really a Landing Ship Medium (LSM), equipped with the with the typical kedging anchor of landing ships, even though the bulbous bow would preclude the ship from beaching.
The ship is equipped with both bow and stern ramps and a short helicopter platform aft. The armament consists of four twin 14.5 mm guns, two forward and two aft. Twin funnels indicate twin-screw propulsion; in addition, it has a bow thruster for improved maneuvrability.The lifting capacity is probably a mechanised infantry company.
The ship is a striking departure from the Type 271III YUWEI class Landing Craft Tank (LCT) that has been building for decades for the Army, and of which there currently are some 85 in service with the Army’s landing craft units. The dark grey colour, too, is a departure from the usual blue of Army vessels.
It is not known if the new ship will go into series production nor which unit will operate the new ship. In view of its experimental nature, a good possibility would be the Ship Squadron (Unit 73502) at Dongshandao, attached to the Nanjing MR Amphibious Training Base.
Songlia Shipyard built another unique ship in 2012, the training vessel AL201 belonging to the Training Squadron of the Army/Air Force Navigation School at Zhenjiang. That ship was based on the Sea Police’s Hai Jing 31101 PUDONG (Type 718).