China’s navy has launched its first self-propelled floating dock, giving it the ability to repair warships far from the coast, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily reported on Tuesday.
The dock, the Huachuan No. 1, would enable the navy to return damaged ships to fighting capability “in very rapid time” and was designed to be sent into combat zones, Reuters said, citing the newspaper report.
“The ship’s launch marks a further breakthrough in shifting repairs to our military’s large warships from set spots on the coast to mobility far out at sea,” the paper said.
The use of the dock means that ships with minor damage will not have to be taken out of service, while those with severe damage will not have to return to a shipyard, it said.
The dock can handle cruisers, destroyers and submarines, but not aircraft carriers, and cope with waves up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) high, the report added.
Beijing has invested billions developing its homegrown weapons industry to support its growing maritime ambitions in the disputed South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
China’s military budget in 2015 was 886.9 billion yuan (US$141.45 billion), up 10 percent from a year earlier.
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