China's latest intelligence-gathering ship was commissioned into the North Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) at a ceremony in Qingdao on 10 January, according to Chinese news media reports.
Named Kaiyangxing (pennant number 856), the vessel was built at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai and is the fourth of the Dongdiao class (Type 815) to be commissioned in the past two years.
The first of the six 6,000-tonne ships currently in service with the PLAN was commissioned in 1999. Subsequent vessels have had changes made to their superstructure and masts, and are generally referred to as Type 815A.
The ships have a highly distinctive profile with very large spherical radomes, which are likely to be covering sensitive dish antennas for intercepting and collecting very low-power radio signals.
There are differences between the ships in the configuration of the antennas and Kaiyangxing has a unique flat-topped cylindrical radome above the bridge.
The six vessels in service are allocated evenly between the PLAN's North, East, and South Sea fleets.
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