CHINA / MILITARY
PLA’s Type 055 destroyer enters Sea of Japan for 1st time
Published: Mar 19, 2021 11:12 PM
Photo taken on Jan. 12, 2020 shows the ceremony of the commissioning of the Nanchang, China's first Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, in the port city of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. The commission of Nanchang marks the Navy's leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, according to a statement from the Navy. (Photo by Li Tang/Xinhua)

Photo taken on Jan. 12, 2020 shows the ceremony of the commissioning of the Nanchang, China's first Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, in the port city of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. The commission of Nanchang marks the Navy's leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, according to a statement from the Navy. (Photo by Li Tang/Xinhua)


 
A Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy flotilla led by the country’s first 10,000 ton-class Type 055 large destroyer sailed through the Tsushima Strait on Thursday and headed toward the Sea of Japan, a few days after US and Japan released "2+2" ministers' joint statement that seriously provoked China.

The PLA operation, likely routinely scheduled, demonstrated the Type 055’s combat readiness in distant seas where it can conduct missions including theater air defense and anti-submarine tasks, following its commissioning in early 2020, Chinese military analysts said on Friday.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted a PLA Navy flotilla consisting of three warships, namely the Type 055 guided missile destroyer Nanchang, the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Chengdu and the Type 054A guided missile frigate Daqing, which passed through the Tsushima Strait and sailed toward the Sea of Japan on Thursday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in a press release on Friday.

This is the first time the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has spotted a Type 055 destroyer, the press release said.

China has yet to announce related information as of press time.

Entering the Sea of Japan shows that the Type 055 has gained the capability to patrol in distant sea regions, and is an indication of the PLA Navy’s progress, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday.

This operation is likely routinely scheduled, allowing the Nanchang to hone its combat capabilities on its way, Song said, noting that it would be interesting to see if the PLA flotilla will sail through other straits near Japan and enter the western Pacific.

The Type 055 can not only lead naval flotillas, but can also accompany aircraft carriers and build up China’s far sea combat task groups, experts said.

The PLA flotilla’s movement came after US and Japanese foreign and defense ministers warned against "coercion and destabilizing behavior" by China after the bilateral "2+2" talks in Tokyo on Tuesday. Chinese analysts said at the time that the so-called behavior by China is actually related to China's sovereignty or core interests, and most frictions were triggered by provocation from the US or its allies, so it is they who should rethink how to reduce the negative impact on the region that could create more instability.

Reiterating the routine nature of the operation, Song said that the PLA’s training is not targeted at Japan or the US, but these countries will likely perceive it that way because they see China as their imaginary enemy.

The PLA needs to boost its combat capability in distant seas to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests in an uncertain and unstable world, with external threats from a small circle led by the US, Song said.

With a displacement of more than 12,000 tons, the Type 055 is a guided missile destroyer about 180 meters long, 22 meters wide and has 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, and the warship is also endowed with the capability to gain strong situational awareness, media reports said previously, leading analysts to say that the Type 055 is one of the world’s most powerful warships, if not the most powerful one.

A total of eight Type 055s have reportedly been built, with two of them known to have entered service. As the first entry to the Type 055-class, the Nanchang entered service on January 12, 2020, and the second ship Lhasa in early 2021.


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