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China army uses civilian semi-submersible vessel as helicopters carrier

According to information released by the Chinese MoD (Ministry of Defense) website on August 21, 2020, the Chinese Army aviation brigade has conducted deck-landing training, fuel and ammunition replenishment and emergency repair on a civilian semi-submersible vessel with WZ-19 helicopter, in a bid to test support capabilities.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Chinese army uses civilian semi-submersible vessel as helicopters carrier. (Picture source Chinese TV print screen)

According to the training scenario, after the multi-type helicopters flew to the target island, the transport helicopter selected a site for landing with the attack helicopter on alert overhead. Then the transport helicopter carried the mocked wounded soldiers to a civilian semi-submersible vessel for replenishment-at-sea.

During the training, the multi-type helicopters landed precisely on the deck of the civilian semi-submersible vessel and quickly received fuel and ammunition supplies

It is learned that the civilian semi-submersible vessel participating in the training is manufactured by the Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. The middle area of the vessel’s deck is equipped with 3 helipads, which can carry and support multiple types of helicopters in active service to conduct cross-sea operations, such as the WZ-10, WZ-19, and Z-8 helicopters. China has so far dozens of dual-use semi-submersible vessels.

Chinese military expert Li Jie said on August 20 that the large semi-submersible ship can take advantage of its large deck and better stability to temporarily serve as a platform to carry helicopters, an offshore parking apron, and replenishment and repair center when performing some tasks in offshore areas, especially those with air domination. If missions are performed around large islands or reefs, a large semi-submersible ship can also be deployed at each end of the islands or reefs as maritime relay platforms to further enhance the cross-sea combat capability of the helicopters and to increase the helicopters’ combat radius.