China's first Type 055 (Renhai)-class destroyer entered service with the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on 12 January: an occasion marked by a long-anticipated commissioning ceremony held at the Xiaokouzi naval base south of Qingdao.
The significance of the event was reflected by the presence of PLAN Commander Admiral Shen Jinlong, who presented the ship's commanding officer and political commissar with its ensign and naming certificate respectively.
Named Nanchang (with pennant number 101), the destroyer was built at the Changxingdao shipyard near Shanghai. It displaces over 12,000 tonnes at full load, is 180 m long and has a beam of 20 m, which makes it slightly larger than the US Navy's 10,000 tonne Ticonderoga-class cruisers, which are 173 m long and have a beam of 17 m.
The principal armament of the Type 055 class centres around its vertical launch system (VLS), which comprises 64 cells forward of the bridge and 48 cells forward of the hangar. The VLS adopts the same universal silos for the missiles as the Type 052D-class destroyers and can launch HHQ-9 surface-to air-missiles, YJ-18 anti-ship missiles, Yu-8 torpedo carrying anti-submarine missiles and CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles.
Nanchang was launched on 28 June 2017, commenced post build sea trials in late 2018 and on 23 April 2019 took part in the fleet review that marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PLAN. Thereafter, the ship underwent further sea trials and returned to Changxingdao on several occasions, probably for defect rectification and minor modifications.
The lengthy period of sea trials most likely reflects the significant number of new systems installed in the ship, particularly in its suite of sensors.
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