China commissioned 60,000 tonnes worth of major vessels earlier this month, on the 72nd anniversary of its navy, reports Defense News.
The ceremony officially put into service a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, a guided-missile cruiser and an amphibious helicopter carrier.
The unprecedented triple commissioning took place at the Yulin naval complex near the city of Sanya on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
Yulin is the main naval base of the South Sea Fleet of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The fleet’s area of responsibility lies in the waters of the nearby South China Sea.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the ceremony, which saw the Yushen-class amphibious helicopter carrier Hainan, the Renhai-class guided-missile cruiser Dalian and the Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Changzheng-18 join the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
The Hainan is the lead ship of a new class of amphibious assault ships being built for the PLAN as it continues to boost its naval capabilities.
At least two more amphibious carriers are under construction at a shipyard in Shanghai, and their introduction will significantly boost the PLAN’s ability to conduct large amphibious operations – a capability gap for China despite its massive military modernisation programme.
At least eight more cruisers are concurrently under construction at two shipyards in Shanghai and the northern port city of Dalian, with both facilities also building smaller destroyers in a demonstration of the scale of China’s remarkable naval shipbuilding programme.
Meanwhile, the Changzheng-18 is one of two such submarines previously reported by Defense News as undergoing construction, bringing the PLAN’s fleet to six. The subs can carry up to 12 nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.