PLA Navy Commissions Sixth Type 055 Destroyer

A sixth Type 055-class guided-missile destroyer has been commissioned by the People’s Liberation Army Navy and has taken part in a live-fire exercise, according to the PLA Navy.

In an article published on its official WeChat account on Sunday, the PLA Navy said the CNS Yan’an, a Type 055 destroyer, recently conducted a sea strike exercise in the South China Sea with CNS Xianning, a Type 054A-class guided-missile frigate.

Video embedded in the article showed that Yan’an firing its main gun and close-in defense weapons to destroy targets.

Senior Captain Li Jinwei, commanding officer of the ship, was quoted as saying in the article that the exercise was intended to hone officers’ tactical maneuver and commanding skills in joint operation and also to improve sailors’ capabilities in operating new hardware.

He said the drills would help the new vessel to become combat-ready within a short time.

The PLA Navy said the Yan’an is the sixth in the Type 055 fleet, following the Nanchang, Lhasa, Anshan, Wuxi and Dalian.

A naval hardware observer who wished to be identified only as Wang said Type 055 destroyers are tasked with defending the PLA Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups and they are among the most advanced warships ever built in modern history.

“Their deployment will tremendously strengthen our carrier battle groups’ combat prowess and pose formidable deterrence to adversaries,” he said.

The PLA Navy operates two carriers, Liaoning and Shandong, and is expected to commission a third, larger and more advanced one, Fujian, which was officially unveiled in June and is being built in Shanghai.

Developed and built by China State Shipbuilding Corp, the Type 055 is the country’s newest, most powerful generation of guided-missile destroyer class.

It has a displacement of more than 12,000 metric tons and is equipped with new types of air-defense, missile-defense, anti-ship, anti-submarine and land-attack weapons.

The vessel has a total of 112 vertical launching cells capable of firing various kinds of missiles including the nation’s long-range cruise missiles. Its firepower is believed to be double that of the Type 052D class, the largest and mightiest surface combatant in the PLA Navy before the Type 055.

The Type 055 is often deemed as a class of cruiser outside China because of its large size and heavy displacement. Western analysts have said it is around 180 meters long and 21 m wide, based on satellite images. Li Jie, a senior researcher from the PLA Navy, said the vessel displaces about 13,000 tons of water, comparable to that of the United States’ Ticonderoga-class cruiser.

The first in this class, Nanchang was debuted to the public at a sea parade in April 2019 that marked the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy’s founding. It was commissioned in January 2020.

In another development, China Central Television’s military news channel broadcast a video clip on Monday, showing the PLA Navy’s Liaoning and Shandong carrier battle groups in recent combat exercises.

Senior Captain Xu Ying, the Shandong’s executive officer, told the State broadcaster that his ship has completed a series of training tasks and continues to boost its operational capability.

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