Thailand Receives Its Chinese-Built Amphibious Ship HTMS Chang

A Chinese-made amphibious assault vessel that was ordered by Thailand reached its homeport in the nation a week after it was handed over to the new owner at the Chinese shipyard.

Amphibious Vessel
Credit: @prroyalthainavy/Twitter

The HTMS Chang, a Type 071E landing platform dock, reached Chuk Samet Pier by the Sattahip Naval Base in Chonburi, southern Thailand, on 25 April.

The ship departed Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding’s facility based in Shanghai on 18 April, where it underwent its construction by the China State Shipbuilding Corp. It sailed to Thailand via the Taiwan Strait.

A ceremony to hand over the HTMS Chang to the Royal Thai Navy officially took place the day before it set sail for home, with Adm. Choengchai Chomchoengpaet, the service’s chief, in attendance.

The Type 071E is an export variant of the Type 071, which is now in service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy. The design measures approximately 210 meters in length, with a beam of about 28 meters and a displacement of about 25,000 tons when loaded fully.

The landing platform dock boasts a stern well that can carry four air-cushioned landing craft to launch amphibious assaults, while its hull-mounted davits can transport, launch, and also recover conventional landing craft. A vehicle deck has space that is enough for about 60 armoured fighting vehicles. The vessel can accommodate up to 800 troops.

There are helicopter landing pads that can accommodate two Z-18 heavy-lift transport helicopters, with hangar spaces safely available for four helicopters.

Several years back, The Bangkok Post reported that the vessel would cost about $200.7 million, with its construction expected to last three years. Before that, Thai media reports mentioned that the Chinese design might cost about $130 million.

Thailand is a U.S. treaty ally, although the military operates several types of Chinese-made platforms, including frigates, tanks, and offshore patrol vessels. It has signed a contract for purchasing Chinese-made S26T diesel-electric submarines, even though the purchase has been mired in controversy, primarily regarding the engines that will power the three boats.

Thailand originally had sought engines by German major dubbed MTU to power these submarines, but the European nation has so far refused to supply them, citing an arms embargo on China. In the meanwhile, Beijing has offered an exclusive, indigenous design for the boat’s engine.

China’s naval force reportedly operates eight Type 071 vessels split among its South and East Sea fleets. The latter is primarily responsible for maritime operations in the disputed South China Sea. In case China invades Taiwan, which per Beijing, is a rogue province, both fleets would conduct amphibious operations against this island nation.

Reference: Thaiger, Defense News

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