China launched its first amphibious assault ship on Wednesday, signaling once again the "growing power" of its fleet, according to a CNN report.
Per CNN, the ship is the first in China's Type 075 class of amphibious assault ships. It launched just five months after initial photos of its construction were seen. Carl Schuster, former U.S. Navy captain and Hawaii Pacific University instructor, told CNN that he expects China to eventually build three Type 075s.
"It highlights China's growing maritime power projection and the expansion of its amphibious warfare ambitions and forces," Carl Schuster, former U.S. Navy captain and Hawaii Pacific University instructor, told CNN.
Schuster added that the Type 075 "gives them not only a significant increase in assault lift, but also provides their Marine Corps with a vertical assault dimension and air mobile force projection capability."
Both the U.S. and Japan have amphibious assault ships in the Pacific; per CNN, the USS Wasp left the region this month and is going to be replaced by the USS America later this year. Japan "has two Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, which function much like amphibious assault ships."
The Chinese military said on that Wednesday that there's still work to be done before the ship is ready to be commissioned into the active fleet. Per CNN, "engineers will start outfitting and fine-tuning the vessel's equipment and then conduct mooring tests and sea trials."
The ship will join a fleet of smaller Type 071 amphibious transport docks, per CNN.