The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently held an integrated military-civilian cross-sea troop maneuvering exercise using Asia’s largest civilian ferry with a displacement of 45,000 tons.
The ship, Chinese Rejuvenation ferry, set out from an undisclosed port on Thursday night and arrived on Friday morning at the destination port, which is set near railways, with temporary train platforms established.
More than 1,000 personnel and vehicles traveled more than 1,000km at sea on the ferry in the drill organized by a combined arms brigade affiliated with the PLA 81st Group Army, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.
“The PLA is now practicing using large, military-civilian integrated ferries to transport troops across the sea, and this is because, as much as the pure military amphibious landing ships are specially designed to fulfill that purpose, their number is limited compared with the number of civilian ships,” a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.
This is the second time that the PLA has used a civilian ferry with displacement over 10,000 tons in cross-sea maneuvers. In August, the Navy used Bohai Pearl ferry, which displaces 24,000 tons.
Chinese Rejuvenation can carry about 1,700 passengers and 350 vehicles in a single voyage, Bohai Ferry Group Co Ltd, the owner of the ship, said on its website, claiming the ship to be the largest ro-ro passenger ship in Asia.
As per Chinese state media, a large number of combat vehicles including Type 96 main battle tanks, Type 04 infantry fighting vehicles and Dongfeng Mengshi tactical assault vehicles as well as support vehicles like medical vehicles, repair vehicles, engineering vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles and command vehicles boarded the ship in a sequence predetermined based on combat tasks, so they can be rolled out and enter combat the moment they arrive at the destination.