By Liu Caiyu
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's new supply ship is Asia's largest and will allow China's aircraft carrier fleet to fight further afield.
The first Type 901 combat support ship, the Hulunhu (965), will form part of the Chinese aircraft carrier fleet.
The domestically-made vessel, officially commissioned into service last Friday, is China's first comprehensive supply ship featuring a 4,800-ton displacement, the Cankao Xiaoxi newspaper reported.
The Hulunhu will reportedly surpass the Japanese navy's integrated supply ship as Asia's largest comprehensive supply ship.
"The combat radius of China's aircraft carrier could at least be doubled with the Hulunhu, and it would be capable of reaching Hawaii," Xu Guangyu, a retired rear admiral and senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.
The Hulunhu has a greater load capacity for oil, water and ammunition, and is also faster, to compensate for the shortcomings of the aircraft carrier. Previous supply ships were smaller and slower, Xu said.
It's 239.5 meters long and 30.5 meters wide, Cankao Xiaoxi reported.
Xu said China's future aircraft carrier fleets will sail to whereever Chinese interests are located, including the Indian and Atlantic oceans.
"China's navy might need at least 10 more such ships to support aircraft carriers as well other naval fleets," Xu said.
More support ships and replenishment bases overseas are needed to sustain the Chinese navy's oceanic missions and combat capacity, Xu said.
China has set up its own logistics base in Djibouti, a nation located in the northeast corner of Africa at the mouth of the Mandab Strait.
Logistics bases may also be built in West Africa and Pakistan, Xu added.
As a country with an 18,000 kilometer-long coastline and vast maritime resources under its watch, China needs to build a strong navy to protect its sovereignty and maritime interests, safeguard the security of strategic maritime waterways and engage in international cooperation, the PLA Daily said in April.