The Dalian shipyard (in the North of China) launched two more destroyers for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on December 26, 2019: The 23rd Type 052D destroyer and the 6th Type 055 destroyer.
On December 28, 2019, the Jiangnan Changxing Shipbuilding and Heavy Industry Corporation (Jiangnan-Changxing) shipyard located North East of Shanghai, on Changsing island launched yet another Type 052D destroyer for the PLAN, the 24th one.
This brings the total number of destroyers launched in a single year to 10: An unprecedented record.
Last but not least, Huangpu shipyard, located near Guangzhou in southern China, launched today what is likely the 71st (!) Type 056 corvette for the PLAN.
According to Chinese netizen Loognaval who manages to keep track of the latest Chinese naval shipbuilding developments, no less than 28 surface combatants (totaling roughly 153,000 tons) were launched for the PLAN this year. Majors Chinese shipbuilding events this year included the dual launch of two Type 052D destroyers, the launch of the PLAN’s first Type 075 LHD, or pictures showing a mind blowing 15 destroyer (plus an aircraft carrier) at various stages of completion at Jiangnan Changxing Shipbuilding.
The Chinese yards have been quite successful on the international front as well, with the keel laying of a submarine and contract signing of an LPD for the Royal Thai Navy, steel cutting of frigates for Pakistan and the launch of the first LMS for Malaysia.
Last but not least, China’s main two state-owned shipbuilding companies, CSIC and CSSC, were officially merged November 26, 2019, creating the largest shipbuilder in the world: China Shipbuilding Group.
Type 052D Destroyer
The Type 052D Kunming-class (Nato designation: Luyang III) is one of the latest generation of guided-missile destroyer (DDG) of the Chinese Navy. It is based on its predecessor, the Type 052C DDG and likely shares the same hull. However the Type 052D incorporates many improvements in terms of design as well as sensors and weapons fit. This modern class of vessel is considered as the Chinese equivalent to the American AEGIS destroyers.
The vessels are still being built for the PLAN by two shipyards: Jiangnan-Changxing shipyard and Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company. The first vessel of of the class, Kunming (hull number 172), was commissioned in March 2014.
Displacing 7,500 tons, the class has a length of 157 meters, a beam of 17 meters and a crew complement of 280 sailors.
The Type 052D is intended for the high seas. It shares almost the same platform as its predecessor, the Type 052C, but has more advanced combat systems and illustrates perfectly the Chinese military’s “Run fast with small steps” approach in their weapons development.
The ships are equipped with vertical launchers for eight anti-aircraft, anti-submarine or tactical cruise missiles each (64 missiles in total): four modules are located forward of the ship in front of the superstructure, four others aft, in front of the helicopter hangar. In addition to artillery systems, these destroyers are armed with two triple torpedo launchers.
According to a presentation by a Vice Admiral of the PLAN in August 2017, the combat capability of a Type 052D is “1.6 times greater” than that of a Type 052C, knowing that the leading ships of these two classes of Chinese destroyer were launched with an interval of only 9 years.
And a large series of production spread over several years inevitably implies improvements to the initial design. Type 054A frigates, with a total of 30 hulls built, have also experienced “upgrades” in weapons systems, for example. In the case of the Type 052D, it is at the level of its structure that major changes seem to have been implemented from the 14th ship in the class, named Zibo (淄博) with pennant 156. The Chinese destroyer is longer by about 4 meters. This extra length involves primarily its hangar and helicopter deck at the stern of the ship. Probably to accommodate the new Z-20 helicopter.
Type 055 Destroyer
The Type 055 destroyers are the largest surface combatant currently being built in the world with a length of 180 meters, a beam of 20 meters and a draft of 6.6 meters for a full load displacement of about 13,000t (compared to the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruiser and the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer both at 9,800 tons or the Royal Navy Type 45 at about 8,500 tons). Their official PLAN designation is “10,000-ton class destroyer.” while the US Department of Defense have been calling them “cruisers” since 2017.
First ship of the class, ‘Nanchang’ was launched on June 28, 2017 at the Jiangnan Changxing Shipyard in Shanghai and the second one was launched in April 2018 at the same shipyard. Two Type 055 were launhed in 2019 bringing the total of hulls in the water at this time to 6. Only the first ship of class is active however. The other 5 are still at various stages of fitting out.
The current Type 055’s weapons fit includes:
- A 130 mm H/PJ-38 main gun
- 112 VLS silos
- A H/PJ-11 CIWS with a fire rate of 10,000 rd/min
- A HQ-10 short-range missiles
- Decoy launchers
The silos are split in two ares: 64x cells forward and 48x cessls aft, just in front of the ship’s double hangar. They are of the same model as those used on Type 052D, compatible with both hot and cold launch missiles thanks to the Concentric Canister Launcher (CCL) concept.
According to our colleague East Pendulum, all Chinese missiles which size does not exceed 9 meters in length and 0.85 meters in diameter can be launched from those VLS cells, provided that the combat system is compatible.
The PLAN is set to fit its first few Type 055 with HQ-9B anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 200 km, YJ-18A anti-ship missiles, a new type of medium range anti-aircraft missile and land attack cruise missiles based on the YJ-18 family, ie, practically the same as those already found on Type 052D destroyers. It is also likely that the new anti-submarine missile Yu-8A is among the ship’s weapons fit.