The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) destroyers were deployed in the South China Sea to conduct training exercises amidst ongoing tensions with the Philippines. The fleet, belonging to the Southern Theater Command of the Chinese naval force, will engage in combat activities over several days, as reported by China Central Television (CCTV).

The participating destroyers, the Type 055 Xianyang, Zunyi, and Yan’an, along with the Type 052C destroyer Haikou, engaged in main gun firing against land targets, anti-submarine warfare, maritime assault, and at-sea replenishment during the six-day exercises. They also conducted defensive formations before transitioning to a maritime attack formation, aiming to launch precision attacks against simulated targets.

An interviewee cited by the Global Times noted that this is the first time that three Type 055 destroyers have been involved in the same exercise. This deployment occurs amidst heightened tensions between China and the Philippines over islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Additionally, the Chinese destroyers were deployed following joint exercises between the United States and the Philippines in the northern part of the Asian country, simulating an aerial attack on a simulated enemy target to enable the entry of forces securing the selected area for defensive purposes.

Type 055 Destroyers

The Type 055 guided-missile destroyers are characterized by their 180-meter length and 22-meter beam, capable of carrying significant equipment and remaining at sea for longer periods compared to the previous generation of Chinese destroyers. In terms of armament, the ships are equipped with 130mm guns, 48 and 64-cell vertical launch systems (VLS), housing anti-ship cruise missiles, HHQ-9 anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-submarine missiles.

Regarding operations and activities, Type 055 destroyers have participated in various training exercises in the region, including those observed in the Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Bering Sea, Philippine Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. They have also been part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s aircraft carrier fleets, providing escort and anti-aircraft protection to these capital ships.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy of China has commissioned eight Type 055 destroyers as of 2024, four of which are under the Southern Theater Command facing the South China Sea.

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