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Global Times

PLA practices cross-sea troop transport with large civilian ferry

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Published: Oct 17, 2021 06:38 PM

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently held an integrated military-civilian cross-sea troop maneuvering exercise using a large civilian ferry with a displacement of 45,000 tons, much larger than similar vessels used in previous practices. The move aimed to enhance the troops' transport efficiency in future battlefields, analysts said on Sunday.

More than 1,000 personnel and vehicles traveled more than 1,000 kilometers at sea on the Chinese Rejuvenation ferry in the drill organized by a combined arms brigade affiliated with the PLA 81st Group Army, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.

A large number of combat vehicles including Type 96 main battle tanks, Type 04 infantry fighting vehicles and Dongfeng Mengshi tactical assault vehicles as well as support vehicles like medical vehicles, repair vehicles, engineering vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles and command vehicles boarded the ship in a sequence predetermined based on combat tasks, so they can be rolled out and enter combat the moment they arrive at the destination, according to CCTV.

Displacing nearly 45,000 tons, the Chinese Rejuvenation can carry about 1,700 passengers and 350 vehicles in a single voyage, Bohai Ferry Group Co Ltd, the owner of the ship, said on its website, claiming the ship to be the largest ro-ro passenger ship in Asia

The ship set out from an undisclosed port on Thursday night and arrived on Friday morning at the destination port, which is set near railways, with temporary train platforms established, CCTV reported, noting that troops and vehicles can seamlessly switch from the ship to railway transport, which significantly saved time and boosted transport efficiency.

In August, the PLA for the first time used a civilian ferry with a displacement over 10,000 tons in cross-sea maneuvers. At the time, the PLA 73rd Group Army used the Bohai Pearl ferry, which displaces 24,000 tons.

The PLA is now practicing using large, military-civilian integrated ferries to transport troops across the sea, and this is because, as much as the pure military amphibious landing ships are specially designed to fulfill that purpose, their number is limited compared with the number of civilian ships, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.

After the PLA has secured sea lanes, civilian ships can also join troop transport missions, and they will ensure that a large number of troops can be transported to the battlefield, the expert said.

At a time when tensions have been rising in the Taiwan Straits, the exercise could serve as a warning to Taiwan secessionists, observers said.

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