A commissioning ceremony for China's first Type 055 guided-missile destroyer Nanchang is held in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on Sunday. Photo: Xinhua
China's first 10,000 ton-class Type 055 destroyer, the Nanchang, is officially commissioned into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on Sunday at a naval port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province. Photo: CCTV's Weibo account
China's first 10,000 ton-class Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, which is expected to accompany aircraft carriers in battle groups, was officially commissioned into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on Sunday.
Analysts believe the commissioning is a step forward in China's deep blue water strategy, which allows China to better safeguard its sovereignty and overseas interests.
A commissioning ceremony for the domestically developed warship, named Nanchang, was held on Sunday morning at a naval port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.
This is the first warship to enter the Chinese naval service in 2020, and also the first 10,000 ton-class destroyer to join the PLA Navy battle sequence, according to the report.
Zhou Minghui, captain of the Nanchang, told CCTV that the vessel will now begin to conduct training in all systems and subjects in order to form combat capability and integrate into PLA's combat system.
The commissioning of the first Type 055 shows the Chinese Navy has now stepped into the era of fourth generation destroyer, CCTV said.
Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told the Global Times on Sunday that the Nanchang is expected to accompany the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier which is also based in Qingdao, and form an aircraft carrier battle group.
The Type 055 will serve as a powerful escort to aircraft carriers, and it is also very versatile and can lead a task group without a carrier and conduct a wide range of missions, Li said.
Having a displacement of more than 10,000 tons, the Type 055 is a 180-meter-long, 20-meter-wide guided missile destroyer with 112 vertical launch missile cells capable of launching a combination of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, land-attack missiles and anti-submarine missiles, according to media reports.
Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times that the Nanchang can also accompany the Shandong, China's second aircraft carrier, as the destroyer will not likely be a fixed partner to either of China's aircraft carriers.
The Nanchang was launched on June 28, 2017 and joined the naval parade on April 23, 2019 in celebration of the 70th founding anniversary of the PLA Navy.
Since the Nanchang's debut in the naval parade in April 2019, it is believed to have completed all kinds of tests including combat ones, making it ready for Sunday's commissioning, Song said.
The commissioning of the Nanchang is a reflection of a major shift in China's deep blue water strategy, as safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and oversea interests requires large warships such as Type 055 destroyers, aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, Song said.
Five other Type 055 destroyers have been launched at the Dalian Shipyard, Northeast China's Liaoning Province and Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, according to reports.
Military analysts predict China could develop an upgraded version for the Type 055 featuring advanced technologies such as the electromagnetic railgun.