The lead ship of China’s new-generation Type 055 missile destroyers was launched today (28 June) at Jiangnan Shipyard on Changxing Island, Shanghai.
In a ceremony attended by General Zhang Youxia, Director of the CMC’s Equipment Development Department, the destroyer was launched from the shipyard’s dry dock, where the construction of the vessel commenced in late 2014. Next the vessel will undergo sea trails before it is ready to be commissioned into service.
Type 055 has been identified by the U.S. Department of Defense as “Renhai” class cruiser (CG), though Chinese media reports still refer to the vessel as a destroyer. With an estimated displacement of 10,000 tonnes, it is the largest surface combatant ever constructed by China, almost 50% larger than the previous Type 052D (“Luyang-III” class) destroyer and also exceeds the U.S. Arleigh Burke class DDG.
China’s Xinhua News Agency stated that the vessel is “equipped with new air-defence, missile-defence, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons”. TV images of the launch ceremony shows the vessel to feature a ‘clean’ superstructure similar to that of Type 052D. The hull and superstructure are sloped to reduce its radar cross section (RCS). Weapon arrangement on the bow deck is almost identical to that of Type 052D, with an H/PJ-38 single-barrel 130-mm/70-calibre naval gun at front, a vertical launching system (VLS) in the middle, and a Type 1130 11-barrel close-in weapon system (CIWS) just forward of the bridge.
Type 055 is equipped with a 128-cell VLS (in contrast to 64-cell on Type 052D), which is capable of firing a range of missiles from its universal rectangle-shaped missile cells. Two 64-cell VLS grids are located on the bow deck in front of the bridge and amidships forward of the helicopter hangar respectively. Missiles that can be carried by the destroyer may include the HHQ-9 long-range SAM, HHQ-16 medium-range SAM, HHQ-10 short-range SAM, YJ-18 anti-ship missile (AShM), and possibly DF-10 land-attack cruise missile (LACM).
Like its predecessor, Type 055 is also equipped with the H/LJG346A (NATO reporting name: ‘Dragon Eye’) multifunctional active phased array radar (APAR) developed by Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (CETC 14 Institute). Four rectangle-shaped radar arrays are installed on the bridge, each consisting of several thousand transceiver modules for long-range air search and missile targeting. In addition, there are four smaller rectangle-shaped arrays on the main mast for unknown purpose.
Type 055 has possibly adopted a CODOG propulsion, consisting of four Ukraine-made DA80/DN80 (or their Chinese licensed copies) gas turbines each rated at 32,600 hp (24 MW). Previously there have been speculations about a possible integrated electric propulsion system on Type 055, but this is highly unlikely.
At least four Type 055 destroyers are under construction, two at Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard and two at Dalian Shipyard in northern China.
Type 055 is not the only active shipbuilding programme of the PLA Navy. Constructions are continuing with three other classes of surface combatants, including the 7,000-tonne Type 052D (“Luyang-III” class) destroyer, 4,500-tonne Type 054A (“Jiangkai-II” class) frigate, and 1,500-tonne Type 056 (“Jiangdao” class) light frigate.