A special strategic semi-submersible ship of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently conducted its first nighttime operation training, a move analysts said on Sunday reflects the vessel’s round-the-clock combat capability.

The semi-submersible ship Yinmahu, attached to a support ship detachment of the PLA Navy, recently mobilized for nearly 1,000 nautical miles to an unfamiliar sea region, consecutively carried out vessel loading and transport training, and for the first time held submerge-load-float training at nighttime, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.

Yinmahu is the PLA Navy’s latest semi-submersible ship. It has a large deck with a length of more than 100 meters and a width of more than 30 meters that can submerge more than six meters underwater while the other parts of the ship remain above the surface, the report said.

Semi-submersible ships like Yinmahu serve as large maritime transport platforms that can deliver entire weapon platforms, which means that the ship has special strategic significance, CCTV said.

It can also transport small vessels that do not have enough range but need to operate in the far sea and extra large equipment that cannot be transported through other means.

In a single voyage, it can deliver thousands of tons of equipment and supplies, and it can also conduct rescue operations for damaged vessels at sea.

During the training, Yinmahu simultaneously loaded three smaller boats at sea under strong wind and wave plus low visibility conditions, marking a new breakthrough in the PLA Navy’s capabilities in semi-submersible ship operations, the CCTV report said.

The nighttime training shows that the semi-submersible ship has reached round-the-clock combat capability, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.

In military operations, nighttime ops are vital in gaining tactical or even strategic advantages, the expert said.

Among many of its applications, one of them is that semi-submersible ship can transport the Zubr-class large air-cushioned landing craft, which is too large to fit into the PLA Navy’s amphibious landing ships, so the transport vessel is also useful in landing missions, the expert said.

Since its commissioning, Yinmahu has been training and exploring, and has become a key component in the PLA Navy’s joint combat system, CCTV reported.