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Type 901 Comprehensive Supply Ship

China has commissioned its newest and largest naval supply ship as the country tries to beef up its capacity to protect its maritime interests. The Type 901 replenishment vessel – which helps supply naval ships with oil, ammunition, food and water – was seen at a port in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province on 31 July 2017 bearing the number 965, indicating it has been commissioned into the PLA Navy. The new supply ship has almost double the displacement tonnage of the Type 903 supply ships currently being used for escort and anti-piracy missions off Somalia.

China’s ambitious program to build more capable ocean-going fleet replenishment vessels is too often overlooked. In recent years, new units of the Type-903 (plus the improved 903A variant) replenishment vessels have entered service. An even more capable successor, touted the Type-901, which is said to displace some 40-45,000 tons (just slightly smaller than the new carrier itself), was at an advanced stage of construction.

The class designator for the ship appeared to be Type 901. Details were initially limited, but the ship's estimated dimensions are a displacement of 40,000-45,000 tonnes and a beam of 31.5 m. Although photographs - shown on the cjdby.net website, for example - had only just emerged, the ship was at an advanced state of construction and a launch in early 2016 seemed probable.

The photos showed the largely completed hull of the ship docked side-by-side with a similar-sized Type 903A, also known as the "Qiandaohu-class" replenishment ship, with a light displacement of 23,000 tonnes. The new ship appears to be a modified 903A with many different design features.

China since 2008 began to develop large-scale comprehensive supply ship and rapid combat support ship. The new 40,000-ton comprehensive supply ship has been started in 2013 construction, and 50,000-ton fast combat support ship also started construction in 2014 to 2015. It is reported that China's new generation of large-scale comprehensive supply ship and fast combat support ship with a new power system, equipped with China's own development of a new generation of integrated supply system, will provide a comprehensive combat capability comparable with the US military.

The two-level ship can be used as a one-stop logistics center for aircraft carrier formation, capable of receiving, storing, delivering fuel, ammunition, dry goods and other supplies, with the ability to receive directly from the base and re-supply from the ship. It is said that the large-scale comprehensive supply ship will play the role of large-scale oil tanker and comprehensive supply vessel in our Navy. The rapid combat support ship is mainly for our aircraft carrier battle group service. In the next few years, with the new generation of large-scale comprehensive supply ship And fast combat support ships have been serving, China's offshore combat capability will see an unprecedented increase.

The Chinese Navy has accepted the first in a class of fast, giant resupply ships that will refuel, resupply, and rearm its aircraft carriers and destroyers on the high seas. The Type 901 class was built at the Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) Longxue. Thirty-one-and-a-half meters wide and over 200 meters long, the first Type 901 class supply ship woulf have a full displacement of around 40,000-45,000 tons. That's a similar size to the US Navy's 49,000-ton Supply class replenishment ships, which can carry over 17,000 tons of jet and ship fuel, and 1950 tons of ammunition.

The Type 901 is thought to have 4 gas turbine engines, which would give it a top speed of around 25 knots, enabling it to keep pace with Chinese aircraft carriers like the Liaoning. It will have up to five resupply gantries located midship, each of which can deploy palletized ammunition and supplies via cables, or fuel lines. This will allow the Type 901 to replenish multiple warships simultaneously while under sail, a key capability for modern navies. It will also be able to operate helicopters and drones from its helipad and hangar. While not a combat ship, it is expected, like US Navy ships, to carry some weapons for self-defense, most likely 30mm auto-cannons used in an air defense, anti-missile role.

The Type 901 will offer a great leap in capacity over the current 25,000-ton Type 903A Qiandaohu, of which the PLAN has eight. The Type 901's larger supply carrying capacity means that it can refuel and rearm Chinese warships, including destroyers and carriers, in combat operations far from the Chinese mainland. Also, its larger size gives the Type 901 a greater range than its predecessor, thus reducing the need for foreign facilities to refuel and replenish, both for the Type 901 and the warships it supports. While China's interest in building long-range carriers, destroyers and submarines and leasing foreign bases (like Djibouti) are getting a lot of attention, Beijing is also clearly at work solving the logistics challenges needed to make the PLAN a true global power.

The new Type 901 replenishment ship began sea trials on 18 December 2016, according to Chinese media. The 45,000-tonne vessel, which was built at Guangzhou Shipyard International's Longxue shipyard on the Pearl River, was expected to provide logistics support to the PLAN's carrier force. Imagery of the ship's construction emerged in late 2015, before it was launched on 15 December 2015.

The vessel is equipped with three gantries and a fourth high-point structure port side aft, configured with five hose rigs for liquid refuelling on the port side and four on the starboard side. The central gantry provides a transfer station for solids on each side.

From official photos released 24 Mrch 2017 it can be seen that the second 901-type supply ship, which was reported in January 2017, had been hoisting. This led to speculation that it will be launched within six months. The 901-type high-speed supply ship is specialized in the aircraft carrier formation of the new supply ship, currently only the two countries have built similar ships.



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