April 7, 2017 – Images have recently emerged of China’s fifth Yuzhao-class (Type 071) Landing Platform Dock (LPD) being built for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai.
Published in Chinese online forums, the photographs show that the vessel’s hull appears to be largely complete and that substantial progress has been made on the forward superstructure, which reinforces forecasts that the ship is likely to be launched later this year.
The Type 071 LPDs are 210 m long and displace around 20,000 tonnes. Equipped with a flight deck and hangar, they can embark four medium-lift helicopters such as the Changhe Aircraft Industries Group Z-8. The well deck is assessed to be capable of embarking up to four Yuyi-class (Type 726) Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs).
The first Type 071 entered service in late 2007 followed by two more in 2011 and 2012, respectively. These ships were all assigned to the South Sea Fleet, which is primarily responsible for operations in the South China Sea.
After a four-year pause, a fourth ship of the class entered service with the East Sea Fleet in 2016, which is believed to have the lead role in amphibious operations relating to Taiwan and is likely to receive the ship currently under construction.
The Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard was visited by PLAN commander Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong on 28 March, leading to media speculation that the yard may have commenced work on the Type 075 Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious assault ship.
Satellite imagery from December 2016 of the Jiangnan Changxingdao Shipyard showed four Type 726 LCACs, believed to be newly constructed, and subsequent photographs of a PLAN amphibious landing exercise showed three of the craft not previously seen.