China launches new class of naval destroyer

China on Wednesday launched a new home-grown destroyer in Shanghai, equipped with new air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship, anti-submarine weapons.
China on Wednesday launched a new home-grown destroyer in Shanghai, equipped with new air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship, anti-submarine weapons.PHOTO: TWITTER/ @XHNEWS

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s military on Wednesday (June 28)  launched what it calls the most advanced and largest warship in Asia, the latest addition to the country’s rapidly expanding navy.   

The 10,000-tonne warship  was launched at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency said, making it the first of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s “new generation” destroyers. 

“It is equipped with new air defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons,” Xinhua said, without giving further details.  

The launch of the ship marks an important step towards China’s dream of having a strong and modern naval force, a member of the Central Military Commission, General Zhang Youxia, was quoted as saying at the launch ceremony.

The state-run Global Times newspaper said the ship was believed to be the first Type 055 destroyer, which is considered to be a successor class to the smaller  7,500-tonne Type 052D guided missile destroyers.  China is still producing the latter and commissioned one, the Xining, in January.

Chinese media showed photos of the new ship covered in streamers and flags and flanked by rows of sailors.  The vessel will have to undergo planned testing before it is commissioned into use.  

The new destroyer will be similar in size to the 8,000-10,000 tonne Arleigh Burke class destroyers, the main type currently in use with the US Navy, reported South China Morning Post.

China is producing warships at a rapid clip as it modernises its navy, which has been taking an increasingly prominent role among the country’s armed forces.  

State media has said that the navy commissioned 18 ships, including destroyers, corvettes and guided-missile frigates in 2016.  In April, China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, a conventionally powered ship that likely won’t enter service until 2020.  

China’s naval build-up, and it’s increasingly assertive stance over disputed territory in the South  China, has unnerved its neighbours.  

China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and has been building up military facilities like runways on the islands it controls.  Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.