Type Long March cargo ship, medical evacuation

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Name: Long March
Namesake: Long March
Ordered: 1965
Awarded: 1965
Builder: Hudong Shipyard
Laid down: 1969
Completed: 1971
Acquired: 1971
Commissioned: 1971
Maiden voyage: 1971
In service: 1971
Reclassified: early 1980s
Refit: early 1980s
Fate: Retired
Status: Civilian service
General characteristics
Class and type: Long March
Type: Type Long March
Tonnage: 5926 GT
Length: 138 meter
Beam: 17.6 meter
Draft: 6 meter
Depth: 8.4 meter
Propulsion: 2 x 9ESDZ43/82 marine diesel engines @ 3,310 kW (4,400 hp) ea
Speed: 17 kt
Range: 3500 nm
Troops: 856
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Armament: None
Armour: None
Aircraft carried: None
Aviation facilities: None

Type Long March (Chang-Zheng Xing, 长征型) cargo ship, medical evacuation (hull classification symbol: APR) was a type of Chinese converted medical evacuation cargo ship (APR) of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), which was only in service for extremely short period of time in the Chinese navy before returning to civilian service.

In the early 1980s, PLAN begun to convert Qiongsha-class cargo ship cargo ships to ambulance transport to meet the urgent maritime/naval medical needs. A pair of Qiongsha-class converted was not enough to meet the need, so some other cargo ships that can also carry passengers were selected to be converted to cargo ship, medical evacuation (APR) to supplement the converted Qiongsha-class.[1][2] The reason cargo ships that can also carrying passengers were specifically selected is because neither the cargo ship nor the passenger ship could meet the requirement for conversion: the cargo ship lacked the accommodation and comfort for crew and patient because it does not carry passengers, and passenger ship does not have the room needed to house the medical facilities and support equipment, so both types would require higher conversion cost because more work is needed for both types. In contrast, cargo ship that also carries passengers would cost less to convert to cargo ship, medical evacuation (APR) because it has what both cargo ship and passenger ship lack. As a result, Type Long March cargo-passenger ship was selected for conversion.[1][2]

At the time at its completion in the 1970s, Type Long March cargo-passenger ship was the largest cargo-passenger ship in China.[3] This ship is unique in that contrary to the usual international naming conventions for ship by which the name of the first ship of the type is used to name the class, the name of the first ship Long March (named after the Long March) is used for the type instead. Such strange naming and designation practice is the direct result of the political turmoil in China at the time, namely, the Cultural Revolution: The ship was actually designated as Type A (jia, 甲), so it would be Type A Long March class cargo-passenger ship, but the Long March sounded progressive and revolutionary, so the ship was designated as Type Long March instead. Because all of the 12 ships of this type built were all named with a name consisting two Chinese characters with the first character as Long (Chang, 长), the type is also referred as Type Long (Chang Zi Xing, 长字型), after the first Chinese character in their names.[3]

The origin of Type Long March cargo-passenger ship rooted in the mid-1960s when shipping passengers in China increased significantly and the 18 cargo-passenger ships serving Shanghai were not able to meet the demand, so more and bigger ships were needed. Work on a new kind of coastal cargo-passenger ship begun in 1969 and the first unit of this design was completed in 1971 at Hudong Shipyard,[3] which also built the remaining 11 ships of this type. Type Long March cargo ship is 138 meters long, and beam is 17.6 meters, with a draft and depth of 6 meters and 8.4 meters respectively. Propulsion is provided by a pair of 9ESDZ43/82 marine diesel engines at 3310 kW each. Type Long March cargo-passenger ship can carry two thousand tons of cargo and 856 passengers.[3] Although the conversion to cargo ship, medical evacuation (APR) was approved and the designed proved to be successful, quality issues has prevented it from serving PLAN like converted Qiongsha class, which included the following problems:[3]

Because the first seven ship of Type Long March were built in the era of Cultural Revolution, quality problems were rampant and severe as the result of the political turmoil at the time. After the lead ship went into service, cylinder heads of the main engine were damaged and had to be replaced after thirty-six thousand hours of operation. Forty seven valves had to be replaced at the cost of three thousand ¥ each. Both the axis of the main propulsion and axis of the rudder had been cracked while in operation. Another five ships of the class had to have the auxiliary power unit replaced at the cost of a hundred twenty thousand ¥ each. In addition, the cranes and hydraulic loading system were nonetheless installed onboard all ships despite both failed to pass the certification tests. As a result, none of the ships had the capability to load and unload cargo as originally designed, but instead, must rely on cranes on the pier to do the loading and unloading. Another inherit design flaw was that the ship consume relatively too much fuel in operation.[3] As the result of the massive quality issues, most ships of this type had to return to dock to be reworked and repaired,[3] as with other poor quality product made in China in the era of great political turmoil.

Although none of these quality issues were encountered at the time of the conversion, the poor quality of the ship has definitely caused PLAN to lose confidence in the hull and decided not to risk it by keeping the converted medical evacuation cargo ship (APR) in service for prolonged period of time, because despite being a relatively a new hull, the hull selected for conversion was among the seven built during Cultural Revolution, and it was only a matter of time before quality issues begin to show after some period of time in operation. After proving the design of the conversion was successful and receiving certifications, the ship was returned to civilian service and went through the same rework and repair like other ships that suffered from poor quality workmanship. For the same reason, the planned conversion of smaller Type New (Xin Zi Xing, 新字型) cargo-passenger ship was not carried out either because most of those ships were built in the same era of the Cultural Revolution.[3] However, experience gained from the conversion has directly lead to another conversion design of roll-on/roll-off ship Huayuankou to medical evacuation ship (AHP), which eventually lead to the development of Type 0891A training ship.[1][2]

Huayuankou design

Conversion design of Huayuankou roll-on/roll-off ship to medical evacuation ship (AHP) was a direct development of Type Long March conversion, but on a greater scale and more complicated. In comparison to the Type Long March and Type New cargo-passenger ships selected for conversion earlier, Huayuankou is larger and did not suffer any quality issues because it was built in Japan by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The specification of the ship is:[4]

 Name   Namesake   Type   GT   NT   DWT   TEU   Draft (m)   Length (m)   Engine   Engine
 Propulsion (kW)   Daily Fuel
Consumption (t) 
 Speed (kt)   Ramp
Huayuankou Huayuankou Roll-on/
5986 1793 7374 430 6.8 146.55 MAN 10V 52/55A Marine
6985 34.3 14 Starboard
@ stern

The design for conversion was completed in the early 1990s by China Ship and Maritime Engineering Design and Research Academy (中国船舶及海洋工程设计研究院), also more commonly known as the 708th Institute of CSSC. The conversion design was much more extensive than that of earlier Type Long March cargo-passenger ship: in addition to housing the 30 member medical team, the converted ship would also be used as a helicopter training ship and container ship.[1][2][5] Although the conversion design was approved, the actual work was never carried out,[5] instead, China decided to build a brand new similar ship based on the experienced gained, which eventually resulted in Type 0891A training ship.[1][2][5][6]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Type Long March cargo ship, medical evacuation". Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Type Long March cargo ship, medical evacuation (APR)". Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Type Long March ship". Retrieved 2016. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "Huayuankou". Retrieved 2016. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ a b c "Huayuankou conversion". Retrieved July 21, 2005.
  6. ^ "Huayuankou conversion design". Retrieved December 27, 2007.