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CMSI Perspectives and Key Take-Aways:

  • In addition to RO-RO ferries, the PLA also uses another class of RO-RO ship, the deck cargo ship, in sea transport training exercises.
  • Deck cargo ships are widely used in China’s ocean engineering and construction industry, constituting an existing and large-scale volume of lift capacity.
  • The simple design and relative ease of construction of deck cargo ships means they can quickly be built in large numbers.
  • These vessels may be tasked to bring in large columns of logistics and follow-on forces to consolidate landing areas, possibly in waves not far behind landing assault forces.
  • Deck cargo ships can distribute the risk for many units making transits and force an adversary to find suitable kill solutions to strike numerous lower value targets.


China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S Naval War College


Newport, Rhode Island


China, PRC, China Maritime Studies Institute, CMSI, People’s Liberation Army, People’s Liberation Army Navy, PLAN, deck cargo ships, roll-on/roll-off

CMSI Note #4: Deck Cargo Ships: Another Option for a Cross-Strait Invasion