The Zunyi, the seventh Type 055 10,000 ton-class destroyer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, recently made its first public appearance after entering service, with analysts saying on Saturday the powerful warship is expected to become combat-ready within this year.

Just before the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Sunday, sailors on the PLA Navy vessel Zunyi on Friday extended their greetings to the people in the city of Zunyi, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, which is the namesake of the ship, via Live Broadcast Zunyi, a local television program.

The television report shows that the Zunyi is a Type 055 guided missile destroyer with the hull number 107.

This marks the first time the Zunyi has made an appearance to the general public in an official media report, observers noted.

With the public debut, the Zunyi has likely already been commissioned into the PLA Navy, becoming the seventh active Type 055 large destroyer, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Saturday.

Based on the general pattern of warship development and the PLA Navy’s past experiences with other Type 055s, the Zunyi could reach initial operational capability by the end of 2023, the expert said.

The PLA Navy commissioned its first Type 055 large destroyer, the Nanchang, in January 2020. Since then, the Lhasa, the Anshan, the Wuxi, the Dalian and the Yan’an have also entered service.

Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Shipborne Weapons magazine, told the Global Times that the Type 055 is the world’s best destroyer in terms of comprehensive capabilities, and the continued commissioning of ships in this class will contribute to the PLA Navy’s combat capabilities.

China reportedly launched an eighth Type 055 in August 2020. While the eighth ship’s commissioning has yet to be announced, but it is expected to happen soon according to the general shipbuilding pattern, analysts said.

Uncredited photo from REDDIT