PLA Navy's Type 055 large destroyer Wuxi achieves operational capability, 'boosting North Sea Fleet's far sea capabilities'
Published: Mar 26, 2023 07:37 PM

Two Type 055 large destroyers, the <em>Nanchang</em> and the Lhasa, are moored at a naval port in 2021. File photo: Courtesy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy

Two Type 055 large destroyers, the Nanchang and the Lhasa, are moored at a naval port in 2021. File photo: Courtesy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy

The Type 055 large destroyer Wuxi of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has achieved operational capability after completing a full-course acceptance test recently, becoming the fourth combat-ready 10,000-ton class destroyer of the PLA North Sea Fleet, with experts saying on Sunday that having more Type 055 ships at the PLA's disposal means higher far sea capabilities.

Organized by a vessel training center affiliated with the PLA Northern Theater Command Navy, the Type 055 large destroyer Wuxi recently went through a three-day full-course acceptance test in the Yellow Sea over training subjects including comprehensive air defense, missile defense, sea attack and anti-submarine actions in a complex electromagnetic environment, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday.

During the test, the Wuxi departed from a naval port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province after receiving an urgent order despite heavy mist and force eight wind at sea.

The warship destroyed mock maritime targets with consecutive live-fire main gun shooting, intercepted incoming mock aerial targets with its close-in weapon system, and launched multiple jamming rounds while taking evasive maneuvers.

A Z-9 vessel-born helicopter of the Wuxi was then sent on a search and rescue test and saved a fishing vessel in simulated distress.

The vessel training center dispatched other forces including surface vessels, submarines and fighter jets to confront or support the Wuxi during the test, so the Wuxi could display its capabilities in dealing with all kinds of emergencies under multiple surface, underwater and air threats, CCTV reported.

A Type 052D destroyer and a Type 09III nuclear-powered attack submarine could be seen in the CCTV report participating in the test for the Wuxi.

The test focused on the warship's future missions, environments and opponents, and it effectively tested the vessel's sustained combat capabilities and the sailors' fast reactions in dealing with emergencies, said Li Guoqiang, the chief of staff of the vessel training center, in the report.

"In the test, we insisted on pursuing a [high] combat capability standard with the goal of forming new-type combat capabilities as fast as possible," Li said.

The passing of the test means that the Wuxi has achieved operational capability, only a year after its commissioning in March 2022.

It also indicates that all four Type 055 large destroyers currently delivered to the PLA Northern Theater Command Navy, or the North Sea Fleet, are now combat ready, observers said.

Having more Type 055s achieve operational capability means that these vessels can rotate in training, far sea exercise and maintenance, making sure that one or more ships are on call for any emergencies, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.

The North Sea Fleet is responsible for safeguarding China's northern maritime borders as well as the capital Beijing from the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea. Since the commissioning of the first Type 055, the Nanchang, in January 2020, warships of this type with the North Sea Fleet have conducted far sea exercises and patrols in the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean regions to the east of Japan, and have joined aircraft carrier groups, according to media reports.

The Wuxi is also expected to take up those roles, the expert said.

China has reportedly built eight Type 055 large destroyers so far, with four in service with the North Sea Fleet, three in service with the South Sea Fleet, and the last hull's commissioning pending an official announcement.