The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy commissioned three new warships – a Type 09IV nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarine, a 10,000-ton Type 055 large destroyer, and its first Type 075 amphibious assault ship – on Friday.
The commissioning ceremony coincided with the service's 72nd founding anniversary. It marked the first time the PLA Navy has received three different types of large vessels on one day.
President Xi Jinping attended the ceremony of three PLA Navy warships, namely the Changzheng 18 (hull 421), the Dalian (hull 105) and the Hainan (hull 31), at a naval port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, the PLA Daily reported on Saturday.
Although the report did not identify the ships’ types, China names nuclear-powered submarines with Changzheng, destroyers with the names of large cities, and aircraft carriers, cruisers and amphibious assault ships with the names of provinces.
The Changzheng 18 is likely an upgraded version of original Type 09IV nuclear submarine, as it gets enhanced capabilities in noise reduction and missile attack accuracy, giving China even more credible nuclear deterrence with further improved nuclear retaliation capability, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military affairs expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Saturday.
A CCTV report showed the submarine with its missile hatch open during the commissioning ceremony. The submarine was in a ceremonial state, and this scene is very rare for normal people to see, because the hatches are usually closed when boats sail or are moored, Wang Ya’nan an expert, was quoted as saying by the Global Times.
The second vessel, Dalian, has a displacement of 13,000 tons, surpassing the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and Ticonderoga-class cruiser. It is expected to serve as a powerful escort of aircraft carriers or act as a lead ship in a flotilla, with its powerful anti-air, anti-missile, anti-ship, anti-submarine and land attack capabilities.
The Hainan, often dubbed a helicopter carrier, was commissioned into the PLA South Sea Fleet. By carrying a large number of helicopters in addition to amphibious armored vehicles and tanks, the Type 075 can launch not only horizontal but also vertical landing missions on islands, reefs and even land from the sea.
It is expected to partner the PLA Navy's Type 071 amphibious landing ships in resolving island-related questions, Song said, noting that it can also team up with aircraft carriers and other warships in a task group capable of seizing air and sea supremacy as well as amphibious landings.
When needed, it can conduct missions in the Nansha Islands, Dongsha Islands and even the Penghu Islands and the island of Taiwan, Song said, noting that the combination of the Type 075 and Type 071 in an amphibious landing task group will be very powerful in island seizing, and with the support of land-based aviation troops and aircraft carrier combat groups, the PLA will get an even stronger joint combat capability in landing operations.