The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) recently commissioned yet another Type 056A Jiangdao-class corvette into service, according to Jane’s.
The latest Type 056A corvette, Wenshan (pennant number 623), reportedly entered service on December 31 with the 17th frigate squadron of the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet. The ship was reportedly launched in December 2018.
The Wenshan was the second Type 056A corvette to be commissioned in December 2019. Two other ships, the Bazhong (pennant number 625) and Shuozhou (610) entered service earlier that month and in November respectively.
The ceremony for Shuozhuo took place on December 10 at an undisclosed PLAN’s East Sea Fleet base on December 10. The Bazhong was inducted into service at an undisclosed South Sea Fleet naval base on 5 November.
As in past instances, China’s Ministry of National Defense has not officially acknowledged the commissioning of any of three Type 056A warships.
As I explained last month:
The 41st Type 056/056A corvette, Nanchong, was commissioned at a naval port in Guangdong province in Southern China in the beginning of June.
Prior to that, the Type 056/56A corvette Wuhai was put into service at a naval port in the city of Dalian in China’s Liaoning province on January 16.
Type 056/056A corvettes, designated by the PLAN as light missile frigates, are designed for patrol and escort operations in the exclusive economic zones of China within 200 nautical miles from the Chinese coastline.
The class comes in two variants, a multi-purpose Type 056 and a specialized anti-submarine warfare (ASW) Type 056A version. The latter is equipped with variable depth sonars used for detecting and tracking submarines.
As I reported elsewhere, Type 056/056A corvettes are designed to conduct surface warfare operations in the littoral region and are armed accordingly:
Next to four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles (two launchers with two missiles each) and a 76-millimeter main gun, the ASW variant is also equipped with two 324-millimeter triple torpedo launchers (…). The ship’s flight deck also allows operation of a Harbin Z-9 military helicopter, specifically equipped for ASW missions.
Furthermore, I explained:
[T]he ship does not have a helicopter hangar to permanently carry a Z-9 fitted with an airborne dipping sonar for ASW missions. Given the ships’ deployment close to shore, this could possibly be addressed by close coordination between the surface combatants and PLANs growing fleet of land-based ASW aircraft like the Gaoxin-6.
The PLAN reportedly has plans for a fleet of over 70 Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes.
As Jane’s notes in analysis, there has been a noticeable slowdown in the launching and commissioning of Type 056/056A corvettes.