Taipei - China's East Sea Fleet took delivery of its first 10,000-ton hospital ship on Oct. 23, dubbed Ship 866.
It is designed and outfitted for both wartime and peacetime operations. A photo of the ship appears to show a rear helicopter deck.
"The carrier features high-tech, comprehensive functions and facilities equivalent to level-three class A hospitals," said the government-run People's Daily.
"It marks an important breakthrough in maritime emergency equipment manufacturing for China, making the country one of the few in the world that has medical care and emergency rescue capabilities on the high seas while also raising the capability of the Chinese navy to accomplish diversified military missions," said the People's Daily.
China has expanded its participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions over the past 10 years with deployments to Africa and the Middle East. There are also undeclared military personnel in Africa protecting Chinese assets and working as military advisers.
The Chinese navy only has two other hospital ships. The navy converted two 2,150-ton Qiongsha-class attack transport ships into hospital ships in the 1990s, the 832 and 833. The ships are deployed with the South Sea Fleet for operations in the South China Sea. A total of six Qiongsha-class attack transports were built in Guangzhou during the 1980s.