The Nanchang, the first ship of China’s most powerful Type 055 large destroyers, recently held intensive anti-submarine drills and demonstrated its outstanding capabilities in a move that experts said on Monday could keep US submarine threats away from waters near China.
During the exercises, which lasted for four consecutive days and nights, the 10,000-ton class warship maneuvered in an undisclosed area in the Yellow Sea and carried out realistic scenario-oriented anti-submarine training courses, including vessel-aircraft integrated anti-submarine operations, fleet escort duties and blockades of straits and key sea lanes, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday.
In one of the exercises, the Nanchang dispatched a Z-9 vessel-borne helicopter to conduct a search in an area of suspected hostile submarine activity, and deployed sonar equipment as a complement to the chopper, so the search could cover a wide range, according to the report.
Despite fishing boat activities in the vicinity of the exercise zone, which disrupted the sonar equipment’s detection of submarines, the Nanchang was able to use its acoustic data analysis and application system to accurately distinguish the noises of the submarine, CCTV reported.
The drills showed the sailors’ high combat readiness and tested the Nanchang’s capabilities in an anti-submarine warfare system, including detecting submarine targets, commanding anti-submarine warfare and conducting joint fire strikes, Senior Captain Zhou Minghui, captain of the Nanchang, said in the CCTV report.
The experience gained from these exercises is expected to be shared with other Type 055s, according to Zhou.
China has reportedly built eight Type 055s, and three of them had been announced as being in service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy as of this month.
In addition to strong air defense, anti-ship and land-attack capabilities, the Type 055 large destroyer also excels at anti-submarine missions, as shown in the drills, military analysts said.
It is equipped with sonar systems that can locate hostile submarines, as well as rocket-propelled torpedoes, or anti-submarine missiles that can effectively strike targets, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Monday.
Thanks to the Type 055’s outstanding command, control and communications capabilities, the vessel can also guide other warships and warplanes to conduct multidimensional joint fire strikes on submarines, Wei said.
The accident of the Seawolf-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, the USS Connecticut, in the South China Sea in October exposed the highly intensive US submarine activities on the doorsteps of China, observers pointed out.
The US Navy’s frequent submarine activities in the West Pacific and lurking in waters near China are attempts to gather PLA intelligence and practice attacks on PLA warships, Wei warned.
It is important to build a powerful anti-submarine system, so that the US submarines dare not act as they wish, Wei said.
After entering service with the PLA Navy in January last year, the Nanchang has conducted intensive operations, including a reported far sea voyage near the US state of Alaska in August and a joint exercise plus joint sea patrol with Russian warships encircling Japan in October.
The Type 055 destroyers are also expected to act as escorts for China’s aircraft carriers, analysts said.