China launches first domestic amphibious assault ship

China’s navy is one step closer to greatly boosting its capabilities with the launch of a Type 075 ship, China’s first modern amphibious assault vessel, a 40,000-ton behemoth carrying dozens of helicopters and military vehicles.

The launch ceremony on Wednesday took place at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai, with local and Beijing officials as well as the vessel’s designers and workers present. The launch has expected for weeks after photos of a mostly-completed ship began circulating on Chinese social media.

The Type 075, which has been in development since at least 2011, is estimated to have a displacement of 40,000 tons, a length of 250 meters and a speed of 3 knots. Her size is slightly behind the US Navy’s counterparts, the 41,000 ton Wasp-class and the 45,000 ton America-class, but far ahead of those operated by France, Australia, Spain, Japan, and South Korea.

The new Chinese ship is expected to carry as many as 30 attack and transport helicopters on its deck, which can also be used to launch planes with vertical or short take off and landing capability. Her arsenal also includes amphibious tanks and armored vehicles and air-cushioned landing craft.

The capabilities of Type 075 are significantly improved compared to the Type 071, also known as the Yuzhao-class, which currently serves as the backbone for the Chinese navy’s amphibious assault operations but carry only two helicopters.

The newly-launched ship will require an unspecified period of sea trials and equipment adjustments, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Two Type 075 ships are currently in the making while a somewhat bigger third one was reportedly planned.