The largest replenishment ship to be built for China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has entered service.
Named Hulun Hu (with pennant number 965), the 240 m-long ship was commissioned in a ceremony held on 1 September at the Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) facility on Longxue Island on the Pearl River.
The ship, which has a beam of 31 m and an estimated full-load displacement of 45,000 tonnes, is the first in the class of Type 901 replenishment auxiliaries, the primary function of which will be to support the PLAN’s carrier task groups.
The vessel has five liquid transfer stations (three on the port side and two on the starboard) for replenishing fuel oil and aviation fuel, and two solid supply transfer rigs for replenishing food, armaments, and general stores.
The ship is also equipped for refuelling astern – a procedure that the PLAN appears to practise regularly – and has a large flight deck and hangar facilities for two helicopters (at present most likely to be Z-8 medium lift helicopters), which would enable it to also undertake vertical replenishment.
Hulun Hu was launched in December 2015 and commenced sea trials at the end of 2016. Photographs published on the China Military Online website in May showed the ship conducting replenishment-at-sea (RAS) trials with a 20,000-tonne Yuzhao-class (Type 071) amphibious assault ship. It is not known whether the Type 901 has yet conducted a RAS with the PLAN's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning .
The ship has limited self-protection, comprising four H/PJ-13 (derived from the Russian Type AK-630) 30 mm rapid-fire close-in weapon systems.
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