The Dalian shipyard (Northern of China) launched two more destroyers for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN): The 25th Type 052D destroyer (NATO designation: Luyang III-class) and the 8th Type 055 destroyer (NATO designation: Renhai-class cruiser).
The impressive construction rate of China’s shipbuilding Industry
As we previously reported, China shipbuilders launched a total of 10 destroyers in 2019, with the 24th Type 052D and the 6th Type 055 launched by Dalian shipyard on 26 December, setting a new record.
For the record, the first Type 055 was launched on 28 June 2017. In just over three years (38 months exactly), China managed to launch eight of those large destroyers (180 meters in length with a total displacement of 13,000 tons). What’s more: China launched 13 Type 052D destroyers (157 meters in length with a displacement of 7,500 tons) in the same time frame (August 2017 to August 2020).
In the past 8 years, Jiangnan Shipyard near Shanghai produced an impressive 18 Type 052D destroyers while Dalian Shipyard produced 9 Type 052D.
The first Type 055, Nanchang (南昌 with pennant number 101), was commissioned on 12 January 2020 while two Type 052D were commissioned with the PLAN in 2020: Zibo (淄博 with pennant number 156) was commissioned on 12 January with the PLAN’s East Sea Fleet while Tangshan (唐山 with pennant number 122) was commissioned on 14 August with the PLAN’s North Sea Fleet. Note that both Zibo and Tangshan are the “stretched variant” of the Type 052D featuring an extension to the helicopter deck and measuring 161 meters in length (compared to 157 meters for previous destroyers of the class).
About 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.
About 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 launched in 2019 and one so far in 2020 bringing the total of hulls in the water at this time to 7. Only the first ship of class has been commissioned to date (in January 2020).
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.