- New Chinese Type 055 destroyers Anshan and Wuxi took part in a night drill, according to state media.
- The vessels are expected to play a big part in the Chinese navy’s aircraft carrier strike groups.
- The Type 055 has been described as “a bodyguard” for China’s carriers and large amphibious ships.
The Chinese navy has put two more of one of the world’s most powerful destroyers into service, taking to five the number confirmed as commissioned in the last two years as part of China’s plans to create a blue-water navy.
There was no formal announcement of the commissioning of the Anshan and Wuxi, but the Type 055 guided-missile destroyers were reported to have taken part in a night firing and search-and-rescue exercise with their sister ship the Lhasa, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Thursday.
The Type 055 is regarded as second only in power to the US Navy’s Zumwalt-class stealth ship and the People’s Liberation Army plans to have eight of them in service in a first batch.
Zhao Shugan, captain of the Wuxi, told CCTV that his crew were being assessed around the clock, with the evaluation starting from the moment they left port and continuing until they docked.
“We must be ready to deal with emergency situations at all times, and immediately raise the level of deployment to deal with sea and air situations once a danger is detected,” Zhao was quoted as saying.
The report did not say when and where the exercise took place, but photos circulating online indicated that four of the destroyers were in the Yellow Sea last week.
Compared with the land attack-focused Zumwalt, the Type 055 is designed to be a multirole warship, equipped with weapons to counter missiles, ships and submarines.
The destroyers are also equipped with the country’s most advanced integrated electric propulsion system, allowing them to travel up to 10,000 nautical miles without refuelling — 2½ times further than the navy’s Type 054 multi-role frigate, the most numerous PLA warship in service.
The PLA Navy plans for the destroyers to play a key role in aircraft carrier strike groups as well as amphibious assault combat groups.
In a shipbuilding spree that has given China the world’s largest navy by number of ships, the hulls of eight Type 055 destroyers were built between 2017 and 2020.
The first one, the Nanchang, was delivered in January 2020 to the Northern Theatre Command, or North Sea Fleet; and the second, the Lhasa, went into service in March 2021, also with the North Sea Fleet. The third, the Dalian, was commissioned in April last year for the Southern Theatre Command, or the South Sea Fleet. A military source told the South China Morning Post earlier that the Yanan, another Type 055, was also in service.
The Anshan and Wuxi are named after cities in Liaoning and Jiangsu provinces. The Anshan was also the name of the navy’s first destroyer, a second-hand Soviet Gnevny-class destroyer Rekordny, bought in 1954 and retired in 1992.
China has an aggressive plan to build a real blue-water navy. It aims to build at least six aircraft carrier battle groups by 2035.