The PLA Navy’s first powerful destroyer, the Type 055, was recognized as a “role model” on January 8 by the Chinese Communist Party committee of the PLA Navy after it completed several challenging missions, including combat drills in which it was tasked with fending off mock attacks by foreign forces.
The Communist Party Central Committee’s Publicity Department officially gave the title to the 2020-commissioned People’s Liberation Army ‘Type 055’ destroyer on January 8.
The ship is part of the strike group under the command of the Liaoning, the nation’s first aircraft carrier. The Nanchang, which joined PLA naval duty in January 2020, is the first Type 055 destroyer hull built in China and is a prime example of the PLA Navy’s new-generation battle force, Chinese state media noted.
According to the Global Times claims, the Nanchang successfully repelled foreign military provocations while in combat conditions for almost 20 days in a training mission alongside the Liaoning aircraft carrier.
Further, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on January 7 that the Nanchang had completed over ten primary missions since it was commissioned. These missions included combat patrols in the Pacific Ocean, sailing to far-off places in the Bering Sea, and conducting exercises in the South China Sea’s Xisha and Nansha islands.
The destroyer had never come across such a formation before, and CCTV claimed that it “expanded the depth of defense, ensured the space for maneuver, and effectively fulfilled the sacred duty of guarding the carrier formation in the face of long-term, high-intensity harassment.”
“When the foreign military aircraft gradually approached, our early warning and detection systems tracked and locked on them through their entire courses. We firmly and strongly fended off foreign military provocations,” said Zhou Yinlong, a crew member aboard the large destroyer, Global Times reported citing a CCTV broadcast.
The development comes amid heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait, with Chinese warships and fighter jets intensifying activity in the region ahead of Taiwan’s presidential elections. Earlier, China also allegedly sent a spy balloon over the Taiwan Strait.
Although the Chinese media did not name the foreign forces in question, the PLA has simulated a blockade of Taiwan, which included fending off foreign intrusion aimed at preventing an invasion of the self-ruled state. China considers Taiwan a rogue Chinese province and has vowed to unite it with the Chinese mainland.
The first set of these drills was conducted in August 2022 when China responded fiercely to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, as reported by EurAsian Times. The role of the Nanchang destroyer in enforcing any such blockade is considered indispensable.
Besides the recent drills that earned the destroyer the iconic title, the Nanchang also conducted a three-day combat-oriented exercise at an unknown location to further refine operations. According to CCTV, the exercise covered 40 training objectives: air defense, ground attack, sea assault, and anti-submarine defense.
The warship also participated in the “Joint Sea 2021” drill between China and Russia alongside other Chinese and Russian vessels. Three combined naval patrols between the two nations followed the drill, with the most recent one taking place in July.
China’s Role Model Nanchang Destroyer
Nanchang (101), the first Type-055 ship, was formally brought into service in January 2020 after launching in June 2017.
There are eight destroyers in service of the Type 055 Renhai class, including the Nanchang. As the first ship of its class, the Nanchang’s commissioning signaled the navy’s transition from third- to fourth-generation destroyers, making them the most sophisticated destroyer class in the PLA.
The 1st 055 Destroyer Nanchang, hull number 101, is commissioned today at a naval port in Qingdao. pic.twitter.com/fZ4PnSiJTO
— dafeng cao (@dafengcao) January 12, 2020
The battleship was created by China State Shipbuilding Corporation and is outfitted with anti-missile, anti-ship, anti-submarine, and air defense armaments, in addition to its stealth capabilities. It is among the most sophisticated warships of its kind in existence.
Throughout her more than three years of duty, the Nanchang has completed over ten important missions, circumnavigating disputed islands in the South China Sea, combat patrols in the Pacific, and covering more than 100,000 nautical miles of travel.
Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told Global Times that Type 055 is the world’s most comprehensively capable big destroyer. According to Shi, Type 055 can lead a flotilla, support aircraft carriers, and give the PLA Navy more adaptable tactics.
Additionally, a Beijing-based military specialist who spoke to the Global Times on condition of anonymity, the Nanchang bears the task of investigating the combat capabilities, work procedures, and tactics of this ship type as the first hull of the Type 055 big destroyer.
“We have conducted a series of exercises to test this warship’s overall situational awareness. During these training activities, we could complete the assigned tasks in aircraft carrier formations, whether in short-range or long-range defense,” Yu Tao, a sailor on the destroyer, told the news channel.
The Type-055 Class is China’s answer to the US Navy’s AEGIS cruisers. They serve a crucial role in guarding China’s aircraft carriers, as they are large and heavily armed. In general, the Type-055 is now equivalent to the Ticonderoga Class AEGIS cruisers of the United States Navy.
At almost 13,000 tons in weight, the Type-055 ships are thought to be the largest surface combatants in the world. Compared to the US Navy’s AEGIS cruisers, they are about a quarter more significant in size.
The Chinese vessel is outfitted with a quad-packed DK-10As, a medium-range SAM, and a long-range surface-to-air missile, the HQ-9. Based on the PL-12 air-to-air missile, the DK-10A would be an intermediate-range air defense missile akin to the US Navy’s RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile. The Chinese Yu-8 anti-submarine missile and the US Navy’s VL-ASROC are similar.
The Type 055 has an impressive success rate with its powerful 11-barreled 30mm close-quarters weapon system. The Chinese ship is also equipped with a powerful 130mm naval weapon.