PLA Navy’s 2nd Type 055 large destroyer holds New Year drills, ‘forms operational capability’

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Published: Jan 10, 2022 11:56 PM Updated: Jan 10, 2022 11:54 PM

The Lhasa, the second Type 055 10,000 ton-class large destroyer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, has been holding intensive maritime drills since the start of 2022, with experts saying on Monday that the warship has formed operational capability and is expected to join important missions this year.

A vessel training center attached to the PLA Northern Theater Command Navy arranged for the Type 055 destroyer Lhasa to participate in a series of maritime exercises at an undisclosed location in the Yellow Sea starting January 4, which were scheduled to last eight consecutive days, the China Youth Daily reported on Sunday.

The drills feature training courses including attacks on maritime targets with missiles and artillery, search and attack on submarines, defense against nuclear, biological and chemical weapon attacks, the task of visiting, boarding, searching and seizure, personnel rescue and damage control, the report said.

The exercises will enhance the commanding officers’ command and organizational capabilities, as well as the crew members’ coordination capabilities and ability to carry out a variety of military tasks, according to the report.

“We will take advantage of scientific and technological methods to explore new ways of training, and set new examples in training with science and tech,” Captain Li Guoqiang, chief of staff at the vessel training center, was quoted by the China Youth Daily as saying during the drills.

This will contribute to the bolstering of the new ship’s comprehensive ability to fight, and accelerate the rapid generation of new-type combat capabilities, Li said.

Named after the capital of Southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region, the Lhasa entered service in March 2021, media reported at the time.

The latest drills indicate the ship has already formed operational capability, Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times on Monday.

The first ship in the Type 055-class, the Nanchang, joined PLA Naval service in January 2020, and had a very busy 2021 by participating in several significant far sea voyages and drills, including a cruise near Alaska, a joint drill with Russia in the Sea of Japan, a joint patrol with Russia that circumnavigated Japan, and exercises as a part of the Liaoning aircraft carrier group.

Following the example set by the Nanchang, the Lhasa could also play a very active role in 2022, analysts said.

The Lhasa is not the only Type 055 commissioned into the PLA last year, as the Dalian joined PLA service on April 23, 2021. Foreign media reports also suggested that the fourth Type 055, the Anshan, entered service in November 2021, but without official confirmation.

Shi said the Type 055 is the world’s best destroyer in terms of comprehensive capabilities, and the continued commissioning of ships in this class will contribute to the PLA Navy’s combat capabilities.

China has launched eight Type 055 large destroyers, according to media reports.

Having a displacement of more than 12,000 tons, the Type 055 is equipped 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. It is also endowed with the capability to gain strong situational awareness and to play a command role in a flotilla, media reports said previously.

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John Pike