Amid tensions with China, the Taiwanese Navy has commissioned a new amphibious ship equipped with lethal anti-ship missiles and boasts an impressive troop-carrying capacity.
Chinese media, however, downplays its capability, calling it “insignificant” and does not pose any credible threat to PLA Navy.
Named ‘Yu Shan’ after Taiwan’s tallest mountain, the vessel is a 10,000-ton landing platform dock designed to meet operational requirements of amphibious assault and personnel and material transport. The ship could be used to bolster Taiwan’s supply lines in the face of mounting threats from the Chinese PLA.
It can also carry out relief operations in times of any disaster and humanitarian crisis, according to the Republic of China Navy’s Command Headquarters. Although unusual for a ship of its type, the Yu Shan shall also carry anti-ship missiles, according to DefenseNews.
However, the ship is downplayed by the Chinese media as “insignificant” and that it would not pose a credible threat to the PLA Navy vessels, “because, in a potential military conflict, it would be the PLA that use amphibious landing ships against Taiwan’s military, and by comparison, Taiwan’s ship is much inferior”.
China’s state-owned Global Times boasted about PLA Navy’s combat drills in the South China Sea. These exercises involved live missile fire scenarios by the service’s helicopters. The media outlet also mentioned the “superiority” of the PLA’s comparable yet larger amphibious landing dock Type 071 vessels.
While formally naming the ship in the southern port city of Kaohsiung on April 13, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that the ship represented a “milestone” in Taiwan’s indigenous warship-building plans.
However, calling the Yu Shan a totally insignificant addition to ROCN’s inventory could be sheer ignorance about the ship’s capability, analysts say.
Defense News reported that the Yu Shan is fitted with a pair of missile launchers, which can reportedly hold eight indigenous Hsiung Feng II anti-ship or 16 Hai Chien naval surface-to-air missiles. The Yu Shan is also equipped with a single 76mm multipurpose gun and a pair of Phalanx close-in weapon systems. The latter is for defense against missile threats.
Important milestone for domestic shipbuilding in Taiwan!
The latest #LPD “Yu Shan”, implying #ROCNavy has no fear of defying danger and pursuing excellence, has launched today! Yu Shan is also the first indigenous amphibious transport dock in #ROCNavy. Keeping #protectourcountry. pic.twitter.com/u48tNXM8Xo
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) April 13, 2021
Generally, this ship would enable safe and secure transportation of supplies to its distant outposts in the sea, countering the PLA’s general tactic of harassing supply vessels with its warships.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, Yu Shan can accommodate up to 673 troops and its vehicle deck can carry AAV7 tracked amphibious vehicles, among other land platforms. The ship also has a twin hangar-sized space for Sikorsky Seahawk and Black Hawk helicopters as well as a single flight deck spot to conduct helicopter operations. A well-dock has been incorporated in the design to stow, launch and recover landing craft.
In comparison, PLA Navy’s Type 071 amphibious transport docks are not armed with anti-ship missiles. However, their weight is twice as much and could carry 600-800 troops along with amphibious assault vehicles including the ZBD05 amphibious IFV and the ZTD-05 amphibious light tank.
These ships can also carry up to four Type 726 air-cushioned landing craft, which can transfer vehicles or marines to the shore at high speed. Four additional Z-8 helicopters can be carried by the Type 071 class.