BEIJING, -- China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned its 26th Type 056 Jiangdao-class corvette on 8th June at the South Sea Fleet base at Sanya on Hainan Island. On the same day, the 25th Type 054A Jiangkai II frigate was launched at Shanghai's Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard and nine days earlier the 24th of this class was launched at the Huangpu shipyard in Guangzhou.
The latest corvette to enter service is pennant number 508, Qujing, which was built at the Huangpu shipyard. Although the commissioning ceremony took place at the Sanya base, the ship is expected to be allocated to the 26th light frigate squadron, which already operates two other Type 056 corvettes from the Yangpu base, close to the Gulf of Tonkin.
The Type 056 corvettes are believed to be replacing patrol boats of the Type 037 class, and it was reported in May that a further three of these (pennant numbers 746, 748 and 786) have been withdrawn from service. Replacements are not expected to be on a one for one basis and the planned number of Type 056s is unknown, though a further seven are currently being fitted out.
Displacing about 1,500 tonnes, the corvettes are substantially larger than the patrol boats they are replacing and much better armed. Not only do they carry four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles and a 76 mm gun, but an increasing number have an enhanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability. The ASW variants are equipped with variable depth and towed sonars, torpedo launch tubes and can operate a Z-9 helicopter from the flight deck.
The first of the Type 054A frigates only entered service in 2008, but these are now the most numerous class of PLAN escorts. Equipped with a 32-cell vertical launch missile system, primarily for firing HQ-16 anti-air missiles, and eight YJ-83 anti-ship missiles, these are well armed, modern ships.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned its 26th Type 056 Jiangdao-class corvette on 8th June.