(From Popular Science)
By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer
On January 12, 2016, the PLA’s “916” Tianmushan, a 5,000 ton Type 072A LST (Landing Ship Tanks), was commissioned into the PLAN. The news is notable in two ways: the first is that it joins the East Sea Fleet, which has responsibility for operations around Taiwan. The second is that it adds further to what was already the world’s largest fleet of tank landing ships.
A LST is essentially a cargo ship with a flat hull and a hull mounted door in its bow; the flat hull allows the LST to beach itself on unprepared shallow waters and unimproved shores (like beaches) and disembark infantry and vehicles from its bow, onto land and straight into combat. Read more