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Type 055 Cruiser

The Type 055 destroyer was designed by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation 701 Research Institute, Jiangnan Shipyard and Dalian Shipyard. The first ship “Nanchang” started construction in December 2014 and was launched at Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard on June 28, 2017. Unexpectedly, two different shipyards are producing Type 055, and each shipyard produces two at the same time. It shoulod be recalled that the advent of the HMS Dreadnought was amazing not only because it was the first all big gun ship, but also because of the speed of its construction.

Military expert Gu Huoping pointed out that the number of 055 type destroyer construction may reach 16, of which the first 8 are conventional powered, after that the next 8 are nuclear powered. The future Chinese Navy aircraft carrier formation may consist of 1 aircraft carriers, 2 Type 055, 4 Type 052D, 4 Type 054A and other vessels. The launch of the 052D missile destroyer shows that the development of large and medium sized destroyers in China has become more confident and has the ability and conditions to develop large destroyers.

The Type 055 guided missile destroyer [cruiser] must be one of the most anticipated platforms in the Chinese Navy, apart from the aircraft carrier. By 2014 photographs of a radar test installation apparently associated with this programs had finally surfaced on the Chinese internet. It remained unclear whether the Type 055 would prove to be a 160-meter long DDG-57 counterpart or a 180-meter DDG-1000 counterpart, but as it turned out, the design is closer to the later than the former.

The launching ceremony of the first new guided-missile destroyer of the Chinese PLA Navy was held at Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) on the morning of June 28, 2017. It is a milestone in the PLA Navy's strategic transformation and development. Gen. Zhang Youxia, member of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) and head of the CMC Equipment Development Department, attended the ceremony and delivered a speech. The ceremony was kicked off at 9:00 and a bottle of champagne was broken on the bow deck as a customary way of blessing the new ship. Then, the destroyer was dragged onto the pontoon and entered water.

This new guided-missile destroyer is independently developed and manufactured by China. A series of technical breakthroughs in overall vessel design, information integration and assembly has been made during the shipbuilding process. Equipped with new types of air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapon systems, the new destroyer has strong capabilities of information detection, air and missile defense, and maritime target attacking.

Next, it is learned that the new guided-missile destroyer will carry out equipment debugging and sea trial as planned. Leaders from the PLA Navy, State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, Shanghai municipal government and China State Shipbuilding Corporation, as well as other military representatives and local officials, attended the ceremony.

Since the Type 055 by its nature is the latest and best, why should China continue to build a large number of Type 052D? Some people do not understood building the 052D and 055 at the same time, causing people to talk about whether there is 052D and 055 dispute. someone from the perspective of efficiency would argue that the 055 is too expensive, and it would be better to continue more 052D. Others claim that the 052D out of date, and that China should immediately stop construction. The 052D performance does have a gap with 055, but it is mature mass production. All the equipment is proven, the main technical problems have been resolved, and now the factory worked pipeline-style, for a lot of construction. By 2016 the construction of the platform did not exceed 18 months, which has been greatly improved, and definitely the 055 cannot be compared.

The Type 055 is immature, with many pieces of equipment and technology that need to be verified. To immediately put into high-volume construction seemed improbable. The PLAN must take a small step, the first small amount of construction, until the main technology is resolved, into a lot of construction. For the new model of the ship, the duration of the pause is a normal phenomenon, in the face of major technical problems. The need to modify the design is common, as the result of service time is almost impossible to avoid. In the case of the US Navy, the construction of a new generation of DDG1000 destroyers, did not stop the construction of Burke-class. The situation is that the Type 055 cannot immediately be put into mass production, before it was fully mature.

At the beginning of 2016, people saw the first batch of Type 055 modules at JNCX (Jiangnan Changxing) Shipyard, which is consistent with the rumors at the end of 2014 that the first batch of Type 055 has begun to cut steel plates. However, considering that the 055 is not only a brand new design, but also the largest surface ship in China's history, it was believed that the Type 055 would be produced in a slow, at least cautious manner. Perhaps only one shipyard can build the Type 055 in the first few years, perhaps the pace of construction is only one year. By October 2016, JNCX's second 055 hull module has been discovered. By the end of November 2016, two 055 hull modules were seen. By 2017, the latest photos confirmed that two 055 models were assembled in the same dry dock at the same time.

In other words, before the first ship was launched, the four 055 models were assembled and constructed at the same time in different states. All of these surface combat ships with new and simple design were almost twice as large as the previous Chinese-made ships.

The new speed of building large warships began in the first decade of this century. At that time, new warships were built at a speed of two or small batches (exploratoryly) before mass installation, many models even Derivatives of existing models (eg 052B, 052C, 052D, or 054, 054A, or 051B, 051C). The pace of construction of the 055 may reflect the confidence of the Chinese Navy in relevant domestic industries, not only reflecting their confidence in the design and manufacture of the ship, but also reflecting their assessment of whether the Type 055 can meet the needs of the Navy and the type of ship and the recognition of the overall competitiveness of other surface combatants in the world.

If the number of powerful warships is too small, it will be of little help to the naval's overall combat capability. Given the reality of naval equipment maintenance, the number of specific types of warships actually deployed at any given time is only a fraction of the total number of service (usually 1/3). Therefore, if only three warships of a certain type are built, it means that only one of them can be deployed at any time, as with the American DDG-1000 Zumwalt. It is not important whether this warship is the most advanced or capable warship of the moment. If only a few ships can serve, it means that only one third of the warships can be deployed at any time.

For the 055, at the end of June 2017, four ships were under construction. The specific information of the Chinese Navy's future procurement plan is certainly not possible, but some fairly reliable sources in the past have shown that there will be at least eight “first” 055 models. Of course, the natural meaning of this is that after the first eight ships, there may be different batches of type 055 in the next few years. Considering that the type of ship has been produced so far, by the middle of the 2020s, the number of the 055 will probably reach double digits. No matter whether the number of time is 10+ or 20+, it is not very important. Naval analysts all over the world may be nervous about this, but at this stage, the number of 055 is definitely be more than three. There are many more of these ships than the DDG-1000 Zumwalt.

According to one source, by 2030, there will be a mix of 30+ Type 055, Type 055A, Type 055B destroyers as planned. Chinese sources claim the Type 055B will become the benchmark for the future naval warfare.

PLA REALTALK noted in July 2017 that "What was not expected, was for two different shipyards to both produce 055s, and each to build two 055s concurrently. By October 2016, modules for the second 055 at JNCX were sighted. And by late November 2016, modules for two 055s were sighted and the latest photos going into 2017 confirmed that two 055s are being simultaneously assembled in the same drydock alongside one another. In other words, four 055s were under various states of assembly and construction at the same time before the first 055 had even been launched... The pace of this construction for a new and large warship is a significant departure from the 2000s...

" ... some quite reliable sources in the past have suggested the “first batch” of 055s will be at least 8 in number. The natural implication of this of course, is that there will likely be subsequent batches of 055s in coming years, to follow the first batch of at least 8 ships. Considering the fast rate of production for the 055 class thus far, it would not be unexpected for the number of 055s to reach in the double digits by the mid 2020s. Whether that means 10+ or perhaps 20+ is a tenuous matter which naval analysts all around the world will likely nervously deliberate..."

On 03 July 2018 China launched two Type 055 guided-missile destroyers, widely considered Asia's biggest and mightiest such combat ship, according to witnesses outside a shipyard in Dalian, Liaoning province. When ships are moved into the water, their construction is basically finished. It is regarded as the most important step before sea trials. Water started to be pumped into dry docks where the vessels were built around 7 am, before the docks' gates were opened, witnesses said. Photos showed that there was a small launch ceremony at the shipyard with hundreds of workers standing in formation in front of the two Type 055s, each decorated with a huge national flag and ceremonial banners.

Then the ships were pushed into open waters by several tugboats, the photos showed. The next steps usually are for engineers to test and fine-tune equipment already mounted on the ships and continue installing other devices. Then they will conduct mooring tests and sea trials before the ships are commissioned in the People's Liberation Army Navy.

According to the media, there is an analysis that the superstructure of the 055 ships of the Dalian shipyard will be found to be different from the completion of the first ship of the 055 ship of the Jiangnan Shipyard last year. When the first ship of Jiangnan 055 ship was launched, the superstructure was completely shaped. Among them, integrated mast, 4 phase active phased array radome, and several weapons systems at the top of two hangar have been installed. The integrated mast of the 055 ships of Dalian plant is only about 2/3. In addition, there are two multi-function rocket launchers on both sides of the top of the hangar. At present, only the installation holes are left. As for the installation of four phase phased array radar, it may not even have been opened.

The Chinese military and China's shipbuilding institutions did not respond to or release information on the "two 055 - day launching" by the foreign media and the army fans. However, there is an analysis that the construction of Chinese warships has entered a period of rapid development, the new ship or the list has become a "normal", so it is not necessary to launch information every time the warships are launched.

By July 2018 four Type 055s had been launched, but none were yet commissioned. The first of the class was launched in late June 2017 at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, the second in late April at the same shipyard. China had already launched four Type 055s—two of them in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province and the other two in Shanghai.

China's domestically made 10,000-ton class missile destroyer Type 055 underwent a high-speed test run in December 2018, leading Chinese naval experts to believe the vessel had completed most of its trials and will go through weapons system tests before entering service in half a year's time. Wang Yunfei, a naval expert and retired People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy officer, told the Global Times on 19 December 2018 that the goal of this sea trial was to test the destroyer's high speed sailing capability and the comprehensive coordination of its different systems. "The Type 055 had previously tested its systems at a slower speed, but only in high speed can its overall performance be truly tested," Wang said. The latest sea trial is already at a later stage of all of its sailing tests, Wang noted.

After conducting its first sea trial in August 2018, the Type 055 was spotted on the sea several times. Now that the warship has completed sailing-related tests, it still needs to conduct weapons and command system tests. This process will take about half a year, after which the vessel will be delivered to the PLA Navy.

At a time when China has been launching new generation destroyers at a rapid pace, Chinese experts said that the PLA Navy's development has entered a new stage, with third generation warships becoming the main battle equipment and fourth generation ones beginning to enter service. Hong Kong-based media group Takung Wenwei reported on 30 August that the PLA Navy's eighth Type 055 and 25th Type 052D destroyers were simultaneously launched in the Dalian Shipyard in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. These new Chinese warships are comparable to world's top destroyers, including the US' Arleigh Burke-class Chinese analysts said. On the same day, the two destroyers were flying full of flags, and the flags were hung on the front of the island. Amid the sound of the salute, the door of the water-filled dock slowly opened. Under the towing of several tugboats, the two ships were successfully launched into the water. The reporter noticed that the completion of the two destroyers launched this time had been significantly improved compared to before.

By late 2020 China had built a total of 8 Type 055 destroyers in the first batch, of which the first Nanchang ship has been in service, and all the remaining 7 ships had been launched. Of course, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th ships had been launched. The ships have already begun sea trials. The Type 055 destroyer No. 1 was unveiled during the Naval Day on April 23, 2019, and was officially declared in service on January 12, 2020. In other words, the first ship of the Type 055 destroyer had been in service for almost a year, and there had been no news of the service of the No. 2 ship.

Warships usually go through four stages: main structure construction, launching, outfitting, and sea trials before they are officially put into service. It was reported that the first Type 055 destroyer started construction in December 2014, was launched in June 2017, and had its first sea trial in August 2019, and was finally officially announced for service in January 2020. It is not inevitable to see that the first ship of China's Type 055 destroyer had gone through about 17 months from sea trial to official announcement.

The second ship of the Type 055 was launched at Jiangnan Shipyard on April 27, 2018, and left the Jiangnan Shipyard on June 25, 2019 to start the first sea trial. It had been about 17 months by late 2020. Logically speaking, the Type 055 destroyer No. 2 had a shorter sea trial than the first ship, and it should have been in service. What caused this? In fact, the Type 055 destroyer No. 2 in service so late may be related to the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020. The No. 2 ship of the Type 055 destroyer had not undergone sea trials for at least three months. However, if the Type 055 destroyer No. 2 was not in service by the end of 2020, it will be in service at least early 2021.

In the middle of 2020, Type 055 destroyer No. 2 had already entered the North Sea Fleet, and the 10-ton Z-20 anti-submarine helicopter took off and landed verification. The ship was one step closer to commissioning. The Type 055 destroyer No. 2 is named after Lhasa, because according to China’s navy naming conventions, the destroyers are named after provincial capital cities. At present, only Lhasa, the provincial capital of Tibet, did not have a corresponding large destroyer. Chinese media in March 2021 reported that a second Type 055 destroyer has been added to the PLAN and christened Lhasa, after the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, and given the hull number 102. The ceremony took place at a naval base in Qingdao, but it was unclear the exact date it occurred. At that time there were another six ships of the class in various stages of fitting out.

After gaining experience from the first batch of Type 055s, China will develop upgraded versions. Considering China needs to have about six aircraft carriers and multiple amphibious assault ships in the future, China is looking to have at least 10 Type 055s to form battle groups and escort these vessels.

In a 12 January 2022 article for Naval News, naval historian and analyst H.I. Sutton wrote that “new intelligence suggests that at least two more are under construction in Dalian, China.” He provided no further evidence for this claim. However, some recent photos of the drydock in Dalian, a city on the northern shore of the Yellow Sea where most of the Type 055s were built, suggested that up to two more Type 055 keels might have already been laid down.

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Page last modified: 24-01-2022 20:15:01 ZULU