Video Above: A Warrior Maven Exclusive Conversation with Industry Experts: David Forster, Chairman, Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition & Rick Giannini, Chairman, Aircraft Carrier Industrial Base Coalition
Expressing a clear interest in developing what it referred to as a “blue-water” Navy, the People’s Liberation Army Navy is announcing the arrival of two new quasi-stealthy Type 055 Destroyers.
While China’s rapid maritime expansion is well known, it seem interesting and significant that a Chinese government-backed newspaper would specifically refer to Chinese shipbuilding in the context of becoming more expansionist, global, expeditionary and “blue-water” capable, as opposed to merely a regional force.
China’s Global Times newspaper quotes a Chinese military expert saying specifically that “China is aiming to build a blue-water navy capable of not only coastal defense but also far sea escort.”
This ambition is by no means surprising and is of course well documented, China’s own written plans call for the country to be the dominant global force by 2049, if not sooner.
The pace of shipbuilding in terms of China’s domestic industrial capacity is motivating many in the Pentagon to call for a larger US Navy fleet and the potential expansion of shipyard construction.
The arrival of this latest Type 055D destroyer marks the official debut of the fourth Type 055 large destroyer, following the commissioning of the Nanchang (Hull 101) in January 2020, the Lhasa (Hull 102) in March 2021 and the Dalian (Hull 105) in April 2021, the Chinese paper said.
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Zumwalt & DDG 51 Destroyers
The modern Type 055D destroyers may present a particular threat to the US Navy, given that they appear as somewhat of a hybrid blend between US DDG 51 destroyers and the stealthy USS Zumwalt destroyer.
However, the USS has stopped building its Zumwalt-class ships at three, whereas the Chinese continue to build more Type 055Ds.
The Type 055D destroyers are Zumwalt-like in that they have a slightly rounded hull exterior and blended contours as part of what looks like an effort to lower a radar signature.
At the same time, the Type 055D hull also flares out and grows larger above the waterline in what also resembles a DDG 51. The new Chinese destroyers also have antennas and protruding vertical structure in the back of the ship near a helicopter landing area, something which also more closely resembles a DDG 51.
Video Above: A next generation destroyer called DDG(X) is designed to sail alongside existing DDG 51 destroyers
When it comes to the full extent of the threat posed by China’s new destroyers, the margin of difference between US and Chinese warships may be the range and precision of their respective on-board weaponry, speed of command and control and sensitizing and resolution of its on-board radar systems.
The arrival of these kinds of ships may be part of the US Navy motivation to move quickly with the construction of its emerging, high-tech DDG 51 Flight III destroyers and also vigorously pursue its new DDG(X) future destroyer.
Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.