The lead ship of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA Navy) new class of Type 055 guided-missile destroyers (NATO designation: Renhai-class), Nanchang (with hull number 101), has left the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai for the first time on August 24 to commence its initial set of sea trials, according to images published on a Chinese microblogging site.
The sea trials come after a 14-month outfitting period following the launch of the warship in June 2017 in Shanghai. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense called the launch of the first-of-class Nanchang “a milestone in the PLA Navy’s strategic transformation and development,” at the time. The ship is expected to be transferred to the PLA Navy in 2019.
The PLA Navy intends to procure at least eight Type 055 destroyers — the largest surface combatants to be built for the PLA Navy to date — within the next five years. In the longer term, the service could field up to 24 guided missile destroyers of the class. The Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) launched two Type 055 warships at a shipyard in Dalian in China’s Liaoning province in July.
Another Type 055 destroyer was launched in May 2018. “In March, China reportedly begun construction of the sixth vessel of the class,” I explained elsewhere. “A total of six Type 055 guided-missile destroyers are currently in various stages of construction with work on the latest ship of the class kicking off in March of this year.”
I previously summarized:
The 180-meter long, 20-meter wide Type 055 class is a development of the Type 052D Luyang III-class guided-missile destroyer, but is about a third bigger than the latter. Given its size, the U.S. Department of Defense has classified the Type 055 as cruiser [CG] rather than a destroyer. According to some estimates, the displacement of a Type 055 destroyer appears to be almost a third greater than that of a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.
The full-load displacement of the warship is estimated between 10,000 to 13,000 tons. Furthermore, I explained:
The Type 055’s main armament consists of two cell blocks consisting of a total of 112 vertical launch systems (VLS) capable of firing medium- to long-range surface-to-air [SAM], anti-ship, and land-attack cruise missiles including HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 long-range, anti-ship cruise missiles, CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles [LACS], next to others. The ship is also armed with a H/PJ-38 130mm main gun. Later upgraded variants of the Type 055 destroyer could also be armed with a railgun.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense’s recently released annual report to Congress on Chinese military power, the Type 055 destroyer will also be capable of firing anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). “The RENHAI CG is a 10,000-ton design that can carry an array of long-range ASCMs and long-range SAMs, and will likely be able to launch ASBMs and LACMs once these weapons are available,” the report reads. The ship can also also carry up to two Z-18 anti-submarine warfare helicopters.