China's first supply ship Hongzehu retires after 38-year service

China Military Online
Huang Panyue

By Wang Dongming and Wu Dengfeng

PORT in QINGDAO, SHANDONG, Sep. 10 (ChinaMil) -- The PLA Navy's first-generation comprehensive supply ship Hongzehu (Hull 881), known as the “first supply ship of China”, was lowered its flag slowly for the final time after a long whistle and was officially retired after its 38 years' service to the nation at a military port in Qingdao of China's Shandong Province on the morning of September 6.

The supply ship Hongzehu carried out sea trial on September 6, 1979, and was officially commissioned to the PLA Navy in 1980. It was first named as “Taicang” ship and later renamed as “Taicang” vessel.

The hull number of the ship was changed three times from "X575" and "Beiyun 575" to"575”. In September 2002, it was renamed as “Hongzehu” with a new hull number of “881”.

The total length, width, and height of the supply ship Hongzehu is 168.2 meters, 21.8 meters, and 36.2 meters respectively and has a full-load displacement of 22,000 tons.

The main responsibility of the supply ship Hongzehu was to provide underway replenishment such as fuel, barreled oil, fresh water, soft water, and some refrigerated food to ocean-going fleets. It was a veritable "floating base on the ocean".

As a witness to history, the supply ship Hongzehu has filled in a blank of China’s naval weaponry and provided opportunities for the PLA Navy to sail from shallow water to the deep oceans.

It has also cultivated a large number of backbone talents to various types of new supply ships, hence won its reputation of “China’s first supply ship”.

In 2002, the supply ship Hongzehu sailed over 33,000 nautical miles in 132 days, and successfully completed the PLA Navy's first global voyage.

In the past 38 years, it has sailed to the Nansha offshore area for more than 10 times to carry out combat support missions. It has also played a supporting role in many joint naval exercises between Chinese and foreign nations, traveled to three oceans and five continents, and visited 29 ports in 26 countries.

During its official retirement on Thursday morning, nearly 300 retired sailors from different parts of China came to a combat support ship detachment with the PLA Northern Theater Command, where the comprehensive supply ship Hongzehu docked, to bid their farewell to this "veteran".

"When I saw the ship for the first time, I felt the ship was really huge," said emotionally Liu Chunlong, the third captain of the supply ship Hongzehu, adding that "It has completed its historical mission before its retirement and the glory belongs to Hongzehu!"

The truth behind the glorious retirement of the comprehensive supply ship Hongzehu is the constant development and growth of China's naval forces.

In 2013, the new generation comprehensive supply ship of Taihu (Hull 889) was commissioned into the PLA Navy combat service. The comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu (Hull 960), the improved vision of the supply ship Taihu, was officially commissioned in 2015. In 2017, the new comprehensive supply ship Hulunhu (Hull 965) sailed into a military port…

The Chinese naval supply ships have been upgraded from generation to generation, laying a solid foundation for the PLA Navy to move into the deep oceans.


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