China to build landing ship for Thai navy

BEIJING • China will build a Type 071E amphibious transport dock ship for export to Thailand, the largest naval ship the nation will have built for a foreign user.

China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC), a state-owned shipbuilding group and one of the major suppliers to the Chinese navy, said last week it had inked an agreement with the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) on the construction and sale of the Type 071E, adding that it was the first time China had sold such a vessel to another country.

Admiral Luechai Ruddit, commander-in-chief of the RTN, and officials from the Chinese government and military took part in a signing ceremony for the deal in Beijing on Sept 9, according to a statement issued by CSSC.

The company said the deal was a major accomplishment in the strategic cooperation between the two countries, adding that it would substantially deepen collaboration in the arms trade and also help strengthen regional peace and stability.

The shipbuilder did not provide details of the ship's specifications, or its construction and delivery schedule.

The Type 071E is an export version of the Type 071 landing platform dock deployed by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy. There are six Type 071s in service with the PLA Navy, say military observers who follow the navy's weapons development.

According to information from CSSC, the Type 071 is China's largest landing craft and boasts advanced weapons systems. It is 210m long and 28m wide, and has a full-load displacement of 25,000 tonnes. The vessel is capable of sailing more than 18,500km in a single operation, the company said.

An insider in China's naval shipbuilding industry, who wished to be identified only as Che, said that compared with the existing Type 071 vessels in the PLA Navy, the export version has better arms and can carry more helicopters.

The Type 071E amphibious transport dock ship is also classified as a type of landing platform dock. The ship will be the RTN's biggest warship, eclipsing HTMS Chakri Naruebet, the flagship of the RTN and its only aircraft carrier.

The largest naval ship China has exported so far is the HTMS Similan, a Type 908 replenishment ship built for the RTN in the 1990s, It has a full-load displacement of 22,000 tonnes. That makes it bigger than HTMS Chakri Naruebet, but HTMS Similan is not classified as a warship.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2019, with the headline China to build landing ship for Thai navy. Subscribe