02 Juli 2015
A photo of vessel 868 released by the PLA Navy. (photo : Want China Times)
Guangzhou's Wenchong shipyard officially turned China's first mobile landing platform, known as vessel 868, over to the PLA Navy on June 26, reports overseas Chinese-language news outlet Duowei News.
Vessel 868 shares many similar characteristics with its American MLP counterpart, according to a Sina Military Network report. It is developed specifically to carry the PLA Navy's Zubr-class air-cushioned landing craft in future amphibious operations. With a displacement of 3,200 tonnes, vessel 868 was launched on Feb. 27 and completed its sea trial a month later.
When joined with other MLPs, vessel 868 will greatly enhance China's force projection capabilities. In the case of military conflict over the disputed South China Sea, the PLA would be likely to launch amphibious landings with MLPs against the islands and reefs currently under the administration of Vietnam and the Philippines. The MLPs would also likely figure in a potential invasion of Taiwan, said the report.
A mobile landing platform is "half-submarine and half-boat" because it has a semi-submersible deck for ease of transferring cargo and equipment. The ship's main roles are to transport heavy weaponry and combat supplies as well as act as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft.
USNS Montford Point, the first MLP delivered to the US Navy in 2013, is expected to enter service this year.