China has commissioned its largest ship for transporting military materials to islands in the South China Sea.
The new-generation logistics support vessel has been commissioned in Sansha Hainan province on Monday, PLA Daily, China’s military's newspaper, reported on its website on Tuesday.
The vessel is 90 meters long and has a full-load displacement of 2,700 metric tons, making it the largest ship in the Army's watercraft fleet. The ship is capable of ferrying heavy-duty weapons and accommodating a helicopter. It will be used to transport supplies, weapons and equipment to places in the South China Sea and to conduct search and rescue operations.
Photos released on the website show the ship bearing a designation of GY820, which indicates it belongs to the Guangzhou Military Command.
The nation's soldiers guard many islands in the South China Sea and transporting their living necessities is the Army's responsibility, Cao Weidong, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told China Daily.
"Compared with the Navy's logistics support vessels, which mainly supply combat ships at sea, the Army only uses such ships to transport materials to soldiers stationed on islands, so their ships are smaller and have fewer weapons," he said.
The PLA Shenyang Military Command received a ship of the same class in November last year. Footage broadcast by China Central Television showed that the Shenyang Military Command ship can carry at least one Type 99 main battle tank, which weighs around 60 metric tons, and several trucks.
CCTV quoted Colonel Zhang Xichun, head of shipping operations at the Shenyang Military Command, as saying that, compared with other transport ships of the PLA Army, the new vessel has a higher speed and takes less time to load and unload.