The Nanchang, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's first Type 055 large destroyer, recently completed its first known maritime replenishment training, an operation that military experts said is crucial for the newly commissioned warship's combat capability.
China's most advanced destroyer is soon expected to be put into action and accompany aircraft carriers in far sea operations, experts predicted.
The supply ship Taihu and Nanchang recently conducted replenishment training, the PLA Navy announced on its Sina Weibo account on Monday. The post also came with a video of the operation.
This is the first time a maritime replenishment training by the 10,000 ton-class Nanchang has been publicly revealed, the PLA Navy said.
Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told the Global Times on Tuesday that "The Nanchang is China's largest destroyer, and its significance, to some extent, is no less than an aircraft carrier."
The replenishment training is an important part of its combat capability generation program, and since it is expected to conduct missions of an extended time period in the far sea and accompany aircraft carriers or lead independent naval task groups, it needs to be capable of conducting replenishment operations through supply ships, Li said.
After making its public debut at a naval parade in April 2019, the Nanchang was commissioned into the PLA Navy at a naval port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on January 12, 2020. In late April, it conducted a real combat oriented training, including main gun fire in waters off Qingdao, according to publicly available reports.
Following these training subjects, the Nanchang is soon expected to form initial combat capability.
"After gaining combat, replenishment, far sea endurance and command and communication capabilities, it will not be long to see [the Nanchang] in action," Li predicted.
Chinese military enthusiasts are eagerly waiting to see the Nanchang operate with the Liaoning and Shandong aircraft carriers together.
According to the PLA Navy, the Type 055 has a displacement of more than 12,000 tons. It has 112 vertical launch missile cells capable of firing a combination of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine missiles and land-attack missiles, making it one of the most powerful destroyers in the world, analysts said.
In addition to the Nanchang, China has launched at least five more Type 055 destroyers in the Dalian Shipyard, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, and Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai. Two more are reportedly under construction, military observers said.