Photographs posted on Chinese online forums indicate that a second Type 055 destroyer on order for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) was launched on 28 April at the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard in Shanghai.
While the first Type 055 was launched with considerable media coverage in June 2017, no official confirmation of the launch of the second one has yet to emerge.
The Type 055 is the largest class of surface combatants built for the PLAN. It is 180 m (262 ft) long and is expected to displace more than 10,000 tonnes (11,023 tons), making it comparable in size to the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers.
Its principle armament is centred on 112 vertical launch missile silos expected to outload a combination of surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, torpedo-carrying anti-submarine and land-attack cruise missiles.
The ships are likely to be a key component of the PLAN’s carrier escort groups.
Two shipyards – Changxingdao and Dalian – are constructing Type 055 destroyers. Changxingdao has been the lead yard for building destroyers for the PLAN since 2008, when the Jiangnan shipyard relocated from central Shanghai to the island at the mouth of the Yangtze River.
Four Type 052C destroyers and 10 Type 052D destroyers have been launched at Changxingdao since 2010. Being a completely new facility built on a greenfield site, pre-launch construction work has been undertaken in a covered assembly hall, with the hulls moved to a shiplift for launch.
Construction of the larger Type 055s has been undertaken outside the assembly hall, in part under sheeted scaffolding structures, followed by launch via the shiplift. Satellite imagery from April 2018 appears to show a growing number of ad-hoc scaffolding structures to protect hulls under construction, with work on at least one and possibly two Type 052D destroyers being undertaken outside the main construction hall.
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