MELBOURNE, Australia – The first of a new class of guided missile destroyer from China made an appearance at a naval review to mark the 70th Anniversary of the country’s navy.
The Type 055 destroyer, named the Nanchang, was among several ships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy or PLAN that took part in the naval review held off the northern Chinese city of Qingdao with Chinese President Xi Jinping in attendance.
China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning, a refurbished Soviet-era ship, was also in attendance along with 18 warships from 13 other nations including Australia, India and Japan. The United States declined an invitation to send its ships to the naval review, and France was disinvited after its frigate Vendémiaire sailed through the Taiwan Straits prior to the event, Reuters reported.
The Nanchang was launched at Shanghai’s Jiangnan Changxin shipyard in June 2017. The Type 055, which is classed as a cruiser by the Pentagon, measures almost 590 feet and displaces 10,000 tons according to specifications released by China — although some naval analysts believe that figure is an underestimation. Each ship is also equipped with a total of 112 vertical launch cells that are capable of launching either surface-to-air or anti-ship missiles, and fitted with a modern sensor suite that includes phased array radars.
Speaking at a regular press briefing conducted by China’s Ministry National Defense on Thursday, Senior Col. Ren Guoqiang confirmed that the Nanchang is on the verge of completing sea trials and will be officially handed over to the PLAN later this year.
In addition to the Nanchang, recent open-source satellite and aerial imagery show that seven other Type 055s are in various states of construction and fitting out at the two major Chinese naval shipyards in Shanghai and Dalian. The latter is also where China’s first domestically-built carrier, which is based closely on the Liaoning, is currently being completed. Further underscoring the astonishing pace of China’s ongoing naval buildup, the photos also show five other smaller Type 052D destroyers undergoing construction at Dalian with six more being built at Shanghai. The latter shipyard has four more destroyers of an unknown sub-type being put together, along with what are reportedly the modules for China’s third and largest aircraft carrier.