One of the Chinese navy’s new supply ships, the Taihu Lake, berthed for the first time in a foreign port when it arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on September 14 for five days to re-supply, reported state media.
The Taihu Lake was commissioned by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN) in June and was rushed into foreign deployment to carry out missions with the North Sea Fleet escort task force in August, said state media. The PLAN is desperately in need of replenishment tankers, Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said.
The Taihu Lake has been at sea in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast for 38 days, providing support for the North Sea Fleet warships as part of the 15th naval escort taskforce.
Provisioned with 1,790 tons of fuel oil, 114 tons of fresh water and nearly 6 tons of dry goods, including fresh produce, the Taihu Lake provides supplies for amphibious dock landing ship Jinggangshan and guided missile frigate Hengshui.
The Taihu Lake, hull number 889, was constructed from a new, larger and more comprehensive supply ship design developed for China’s needy fleet. It has a length of 178.5 meters, a beam of 24.8 meters and a displacement of around 20,000 tons, and it can carry 11,000 tons of cargo. It will berth monthly to take on fuel oil, fresh water and fresh produce.
The new generation of large offshore supply ships is built with a high degree of automation, explained a Chinese military site.
A second new supply ship, the Chaohu, was commissioned this month for the East China Sea fleet of the PLAN, said state media. The Chaohu has a displacement of more than 20,000 tons and is able to travel anywhere except in the polar ice regions, said its captain.