China's first amphibious assault ship was launched in Shanghai on Wednesday, coming closer to the completion of its construction project.
The People's Liberation Army Navy said in a statement that after a brief ceremony starting at 9:20 am at an unidentified shipyard, waters began to be pumped into a dry dock in which the ship's hull was built.
Participants at the ceremony – officials from the central and Shanghai governments, officers from the Central Military Commission's Equipment Development Department and the PLA Navy, executives of the State-owned conglomerate China State Shipbuilding Corp as well as the vessel's designers and construction workers – applauded as they watched the launch process, the statement said, without providing more details about the event.
In shipbuilding terminology, launch refers to the process during which a nearly-finished ship is moved into water. It is one of the most important stages in a ship's construction because once a ship is launched, it means that its major structures have been readied and major work of the entire construction project has been done.
According to the Navy, the new ship, whose name remains unknown as the Chinese military usually makes public a warship's name at its commissioning ceremony, was domestically developed and constructed. It will have a strong capability to carry out amphibious combat and other tasks.
The Navy added that in the next phase, engineers will start outfitting and fine-tuning the vessel's equipment and then conduct mooring tests and sea trials.
Observers familiar with the PLA Navy's hardware have pointed out that the new ship is the first in the Type 075 class of amphibious assault ship, which is also defined as a type of landing helicopter dock.
Foreign media reported it is being built at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding, a major shipbuilder under China State Shipbuilding Corp.