18 Juli 2008
Spotlight On China’s LPDs, LHDs And Aircraft Carrier
China’s PLA Navy (PLAN) on July 6 commissioned its first of six Type 071 Landing Platform Docks (LPD) that will be used for both tri-services operational logistics as well as civilian disaster relief operations. The vessel, with pennant number 998, is now operational with the Navy’s South Sea Fleet and has on board four Z-8K heavylift helicopters. The state-owned China State Shipbuilding & Trading Corp (CSTC), a subsidiary of the China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC), had on December 21, 2006 launched the first LPD at its Shanghai-based Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding facility and this vessel early last September began her sea trials. A modified variant of the Type 071 LPD is also being offered for export to Malaysia by CSTC, which is leading a formidable consortium of Chinese companies that will include China North Industries Corp (NORINCO), China Electronics Trading Corp International (CETC), and guided-missile manufacturer China National Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp (CPMIEC) in its bid to win the Malaysian contract. The Royal Malaysian Navy has projected a requirement for at least two such LPDs, which it calls the multi-role support ship (MRSS).
The Type 071 LPD has an overall length of 150 metres, waterline length of 140 metres, moulded beamwidth of 30 metres, waterline breadth of 24.5 metres, moulded depth of 20 metres, draught of 5.9 metres, full displacement of 14,000 tonnes, cruising speeds of up to 20 Knots, range of 6,000nm at 18 Knots, endurance of 60 days, a crew complement comprising 30 officers and 145 other ranks, a stern-mounted helicopter deck housing four heavylift helicopters, a 4-metre wide 308-lane metre internal vehicle garage, a deck-mounted flight deck measuring 50 metres by 30 metres, 450 square-metre internal hospital deck, a twin-door cantilever hangar measuring 18.5 metres by 23 metres by 8 metres, and a dry dock measuring 40.4 metres by 15.4 metres by 8 metres. The LPD thus incorporates the features of a troop transport ship, amphibious assault support ship, logistics support ship for submarine escape-and-rescue operations, aviation support ship, field hospital ship (with a surgical unit operating for a minimum of 30 days), and a combined forces command-and-control vessel leading a power projection-oriented naval task force. The vessel is also capable of transporting 800 fully equipped troops along with related tracked/wheeled vehicles, six medium-lift assault hovercraft in times of conflict for a period of 14 days, and will also be able to replenish at sea. Alternatively, the vessel will be able to carry 400 troops, a 50-tonne main battle tank, one hovercraft, four LCMs, four LCVPs, and up to four heavylift helicopters. For export customers, CSTC plans to finish construction of the first Type 071 LPD within 45 months of contract signature. CSTC will take three months to complete initial design work, followed by six months of technical design activity, eight months for construction design, seven months for construction preparation, 12 months for hull construction and installation of machinery, a one-month period for launching the vessel, five months for vessel outfitting alongside in the shipyard, two months of harbour and sea trials, and less than a month for finalising the delivery process.
The Type 071 LPD’s hull and superstructure are reformed—the hull has flaring sides, while the superstructure has a 10º inclination for the sidewalls and a 15º for the frontal and aft walls. To eliminate cavity reflection, large openings are avoided and the observation windows at the bridge and the aviation command-and-control centre use shielded glass. Helicopters from the cantilever hangars will be transferred into and out of the hangar via an integrated helicopter handling system, with the hangers being able to cater for at least 21 days of continuous helicopter operations. The vessel’s maximum persistent pitch and roll are 5º and 15º, respectively. When running at 18 Knots cruising speed with a pair of anti-rolling fins in operation, the residual roll angle at 5-6 sea states will not exceed 4º. The on-board equipment is able to withstand the 45º rolling for 8~10-second periods and persistent ±15º list. The LPD’s integrated CODAD propulsion, controlled by an automated propulsion control system, comprises four MTU 20V956TB92 diesel engines each rated at 8,840hp (6.5mW). The engines have single-step vibration isolators, while the generators have double-step vibration dampers. The twin reduction gearboxes with associate clutches and coupling are rigidly mounted and drive twin low-cavitation controllable pitch noise propellers.