China Now Has 8 Type 055 Destroyers In Active Service
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Xianyang (pennant number 108), the eigth Type 055 Destroyer (NATO designation: Renhai class) of the Chinese Navy was recently commissioned this year. The ship made its official debut on state television on April 21st, to mark the 74th anniversary of the Chinese Navy.

Commissioning of Xianyang marks the completion of the first batch of 8 Type 055 Destroyers.

The first batch of Type 055 Destroyers consists of:

  • Nanchang (101),
  • Lhasa (102),
  • Anshan (103),
  • Wuxi (104),
  • Dalian (105),
  • Yan‘an (106),
  • Zunyi (107)
  • and the newest addition, Xianyang (108).

These 8 vessels are assigned to the Northern Command and Southern Command of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese Navy). The main role of the Type 055 destroyers is to provide both Chinese Carriers, the Liaoning (CV-16) and the Shandong (CV-17) with a robust Area Air Defense capability. They act in a similar way to how the US Navy is using the Ticonderoga-class Cruisers as the Air Defense Commanders for Carrier Strike Groups.

When operating outside carrier groups, Type 055s can also act as flagships for surface action groups, providing Command and Control function for other destroyers and frigates.

In addition, the 4 hulls which were built by the Dalian Shipyard and assigned to the Southern Command actually have a slight difference when compared to their sister ships built by Jiangnan Shipyard (which are assigned to the Northern Command): The forward funnel of these 4 hulls has a different exhaust port design, in which it extends out and direct the exhaust from the gas turbine engines towards the rear.

Also known as the “Thousand ton class large destroyers” (萬噸大驅) by the Chinese community, the Type 055 Destroyers represent the best large surface combatants that China can offer to its fleet; however, the smaller Type 052D Destroyers (NATO designation: Luyang III) are still being produced, with the 4th batch of 10 follow-on ships now in various stage of construction at the Jiangnan Shipyard and Dalian Shipyard. Typically, the average time required to complete a Type 055 hull from launching to commissioning is around 3 years, while the time for Type 052D is around 2 years. In addition, the reported cost for building a single Type 055 is close to that of 2 Type 052Ds (6 billion CNY/866 million USD vs 3.5 billion CNY/505 million USD). 

In the foreseeable future, the Chinese Navy is still considering the Type 052Ds as their primary surface combatants and they would remain the backbone of their battle force. This is the type of surface combatant they are focusing on mass producing, not the Type 055. With the first batch of Type 055s now in active service, the first ship of the second batch (which could be known as “Type 055A”) is being built in the Jiangnan Shipyard. By the time the Type 003 Carrier, Shandong (CV-18) is ready for operational deployment during the 2025-2026 timeframe, there should be 2 Type 055As ready to operate with her. 



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