The Chinese navy is sailing its new destroyers in the South China Sea as its shipbuilding spree continues, state media reported.
The Nanning, a new type of 052D guided missile destroyer made its public debut in a four-day real combat training exercise in the South China Sea after it entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the PLA’s official website said.
The Nanning, bearing hull number 162, was photographed joining Type 901 comprehensive supply ship Chaganhu and Type 071 amphibious dock landing ship Qilianshan of the PLA Southern Theatre Command to carry out a drill in disputed waters that are also claimed by five other nations.
“After gaining combat capabilities, the South China Sea-based Nanning will play an important role in safeguarding China’s territorial integrity, national sovereignty and development interests,” the state-run Global Times said.
The Nanning was reportedly commissioned in April at Zhanjiang port in Guangdong province and is the third of its class to enter service in 2021, following the Suzhou and the Huainan, bringing the number of Type 052D vessels in service to 18.
Meanwhile, two other ships have been photographed finishing sea trials, suggesting they will be soon delivered to the Chinese navy.
Type 052D – or Luyang III-class as Nato calls it – was designed to match the US Navy Arleigh-Burke class destroyers. It is equipped with advanced radars and electronics comparable to the US Aegis system, as well as 64-cell vertical missile launchers. The first ship of its class was commissioned in 2014 and in August 2020 the 25th Type 052D was launched.
Nanning belongs to the upgraded version of the 7,500-tonne guided-missile destroyer, the PLAN’s second largest destroyer after the Type 055.
Sometimes also referred to as Type 052DL, the variant has an extended rear helicopter flight deck and a new radar to improve its anti-submarine and anti-stealth capabilities.
Besides Type 052D, the PLA navy has also planned for at least eight type 055 destroyers – two commissioned and six under construction. This year, it is expected to have at least three more delivered.
So rapid is the Chinese navy’s expansion, it is running out of names for its new warships. According to PLAN ship naming rules, Type 052D and Type 055 vessels should be named after big cities, such as provincial capitals.
However, Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province, was the last name available. Future ships will have to be named after smaller cities.