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Type 079 Yulian-class Landing Ship Medium [LSM]

The Yulian class was developed in 1967 to fulfill the need for a medium size amphibious utility ship. Some sources classify this ship as a Landing Craft Utility, something of a non-combat auxiliary, while others classify it as a Landing Ship Medium [LSM], a combat landing ship. The latter classification seems more appropriate.

The Type 079 landing ship was originally designed and built according to Vietnamese requirements. Other sources claim this class of medium-sized landing ships was developed in 1967 to meet the amphibious needs of the People's Liberation Army in the South China Sea. It is required to carry 200-250 tons of cargo, with a speed of 12-15 knots. The equipment is reliable, the process is simple, and it is easy to build in batches. The design was completed from 1971 to 1973.

The first ship was built at the Guangzhou Shipyard in May 1974 and launched on July 22, 1976. By this time, the relationship between China and Vietnam had changed, and it was decided to change it to domestic use. From December 1976 to January 1977, the loading and landing test was carried out, which proved that the boat has good performance in boarding and returning to the beach; it has large loading capacity, good economy and overload capacity; the ship is simple and easy to manufacture, and is suitable for mass production. However, the weather resistance is poor and the speed is slow.

In design the Yulian class resembles an enlarged version of the Type 27 landing craft. The design of the "Jade" class is basically an enlarged 271-II multi-function landing ship. The "Yu Lian" medium-sized landing ship is a traditional front plate design. This design has been used in the first landing craft of the ship since World War II. These ships are used to transport people and goods from land to shore and can only be used offshore.

The Type 079 is 60.3 meters long, 10 meters wide and 2.63 meters deep. The standard displacement is 714 tons, the normal displacement is 730 tons, and the full displacement is 833 tons. The power is 2 sets of 6300ZC diesel engines, the power is 2X600 horsepower, the maximum speed is 13 knots, and the endurance is 1000 nautical miles/10 knots. Resistance to wind 5 to 6 levels, self-sustaining power for 7 days, 36 crew members. The 079 type has a landing springboard. The tank compartment can carry 200 tons of materials, equivalent to 5 medium tanks or 8 trucks. The balanced loading can carry one load of 3 tanks and 250 fully armed soldiers. Due to the small size of the hatch, manual access is usually required when the tank enters and exits.

There are four 61-type double 25mm cannons, two of which are located on the sides of the hatch and the other two are located behind the bridge. Two 107mm 12-barrel rocket launchers can also be installed on the deck. The maximum range of the gun is 9 kilometers, which can provide direct fire support for the beach landing troops. The dome is equipped with a navigation radar.

These ships have mainly seen service in the South China Sea and are used to transport personnel and materiel around the coastal region. Some ships in the 1990s may have been retired, handed over to reserve forces or transferred to local transport fleets. By 2018 only 965, 980 and 986 remained in service, with 975 relegated to a museum ship. Most or all units had now been decommissioned and scrapped.

From the 1980s to the 1990s, these more than 20 landing craft made great efforts in the defense construction and war preparation of the South China Sea islands. It is an important member of the South China Sea Fleet and is active in the oceans of southern Xinjiang. Although it is only 13 knots at speed, it is difficult to use as the first echelon in modern landing operations. However, in the 1990s, every time the Chinese Navy conducted an amphibious combat exercise, almost all of the 079 landing crafts participated, showing its main role.


The situation with respect to nomenclature, variants and construction details is rather confused. The Type 079 Yuliang-class LSM [ONI nomenclature] has also variously been called Yulian, Yuling, or Yulin. The ferociously authoritative reports Yutian or Yusong. Some English language sources report units numbered 957 through 986 inclusive with no gaps. The authoritative reports the ship numbers as 957-964 [skipping 965] and then 966-988, and that the prototype of 079 is a ship of 079II type [which makes no sense]. This is confusing because ONI reports the active units as of 2015 as 965, 975 (museum ship), 980, and 986. Posibly one unit has been renumbered to #965, but there is of course no indication which unit this might be.

Due to the performance of the 079 landing ship, coupled with various factors such as low cost and urgent needs in the South China Sea, it was decided to modify the 079 prototype ship that was not suitable for the equipment required by the Chinese Navy. In October 1977, the improved design was completed. From 1978 to 1983, more than 20 ships were built. NATO called this the Yulin, which may have been the Type 079-I.

The Yulian class (079 type) medium-sized landing ship, which began service after 1972, included a total of 31 ships. The first 27 were originally built by the Guanghzhou Shipyard between 1972 and 1978. By one accout a total of 23 Yuling class of utility ships were built between 1971 and 1975. Four modified ships, Type 79-II's, were built by the Xiamen Shipyard between 1979 and 1983. Construction began in 1980 on the Yuliang class of utility ships. Some sources report 3-4 shipyards, but this is evidently in error.

A knowledgeable student of this class of ships will notice, or even a casual perusal of this discussion will suggest, that there are a few loose ends about this class that resist resolution based on available open source materials. But as William Makepeace Thackeray wrote "It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now."

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Page last modified: 07-11-2019 19:02:15 ZULU