The Chinese PLA Navy’s latest ‘Type 055’ class destroyer recently sailed near the Japanese waters for the first time. It led a flotilla through the Tsushima Strait on Thursday.
According to the Chinese state media Global Times, the deployment of Type 055 destroyer (also called Renhai-class) to the Sea of Japan was done against the recent 2+2 ministers joint statement, which according to Chinese experts, “seriously provoked” Beijing.
A few days ago, the US and Japanese foreign ministers warned China against “coercing and destabilizing behavior”, while Beijing warned that the US-Japan alliance should not target any “third party”.
The report also mentioned that the PLA’s Naval operation was a routine exercise, demonstrating the latest destroyer’s ‘combat readiness’, flexing its muscle against Tokyo.
A statement issued by the Japanese Defense Ministry said the Renhai-class missile destroyer Nanchang sailed through the Tsushima Strait along with a Type 052D class guided-missile destroyer Chengdu and the Type 054A guided-missile frigate Daqing towards the Sea of Japan.
The ministry said that the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces witnessed the fleet pass through the strait between Kyushu and the Korean peninsula. It was for the first time a Type 055 Class destroyer was spotted by the force.
A Chinese military expert, Song Zhongping, told GT on Friday that the vessel’s deployment shows the operational capability to patrol in distant sea regions and gaining operational experience for the crew.
Type 055 Class Destroyer
Also called the Renhai-class, Type 055 is a class of stealth-guided missile destroyers developed for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Surface Force. It is a multi-mission design. The combination of sensors and weapons suggests the main role of area air defense, with anti-submarine warfare capabilities, which surpass previous Chinese surface combatant ships.
The vessel is expected to undertake expeditionary missions and serves as a primary escort for aircraft carriers. The ship is equipped with 112 vertical launch cells (VLS), capable of launching various surface-to-surface, surface-to-air, and land-attack missiles along with anti-submarine warfare capability including missile launched ASW torpedoes.
Eight ships of the class are being built, two of which have reportedly entered service. The Nanchang was commissioned in January last year and Lhasa in early 2021.