The Yinchuan, a Type 052D guided missile destroyer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, has conducted an exercise deep in the far sea that saw the vessel sailing for more than 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 kilometers) on its own, a move experts said on Monday displayed the warship’s self-sufficiency as well as the PLA Navy’s continued efforts to explore the deep blue water.

When the official Sina Weibo account of the PLA Navy on Sunday released a post introducing the Yinchuan, it said the destroyer “conducted a solo run stretching over 10,000 nautical miles and sharpened its sword in the deep blue water.”

A video attached to the post showed that the Yinchuan fired air defense and anti-ship missiles, hosted anti-submarine helicopter takeoffs and landings and received maritime resupplies from a comprehensive replenishment ship.

It did not give details on the voyage, including when or where it took place.

Being able to carry out a voyage of more than 10,000 nautical miles shows that the Type 052D destroyer’s self-sufficiency has reached a new level, and that it can reach sea areas farther away, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Monday.

There is a range limit for a vessel to sail without replenishment, so the Yinchuan’s solo run could be seen as exploring its extreme self-sufficiency, Wei said.

“Generally speaking, in a long-distance solo voyage, a warship could still receive supplies from comprehensive replenishment ships in the early stage. Later, when the warship goes further and goes solo, it could make port calls in friendly countries for replenishment, or receive supplies from friendly commercial ships in the vicinity,” Wei said.

On December 22, 2022, the French Pacific Command said in a social media post that a Chinese destroyer was transiting near the exclusive economic zone of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. The news website of the US Naval Institute identified the destroyer as the Yinchuan based on its hull number 175.

The linear distance between French Polynesia and the Chinese mainland is well beyond 10,000 kilometers, and since the Yinchuan couldn’t have sailed in a straight line and may have sailed even further and eventually needed to return, the voyage would indeed have covered more than 10,000 nautical miles, observers said.

The PLA Navy is sailing increasingly deeper into the far sea for patrols and exercises, and its capabilities to safeguard China’s strategic interests and carry out missions are also growing, Wei said.