Anshan class destroyers

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1955)
Anshan, Fu Chun, Chang Chun, Chi Lin

The first Chinese Destroyers

The Anshan class was not an indigenous design but the new denomination of four Soviet-built vintage Gnevniy class destroyers, designed in the mid-1930s and built at Nikolayev, Dalzavod and Komsomolsk yards. There were transferred in December 1954 (two), and another pair in June 1955. These were the former Rekordny (Рекордный), Rezkiy, Reshitelny and Retivy. They had been renamed Anshan, Fu Chun, Chang Chun, and Chi Lin respectively, purchased, and later rearmed in the 1970s and modernized, then decommissioned in 1991. Anshan was written in Chinese 鞍山号; and in pinyin: Ānshān hào.

But did they were the first Chinese destroyers, really ? On records, Imperial China only took delivery of three Chang Feng class (1911 Schichau type 390t) sunk in 1937, and only relied on gunboats from then, with the exception of a single Japanese transfer to the puppet Republic or Mandchuko in 1937 as the Hai Wei (Ex Kasi), returned in 1943. On their side, southern Forces acquired the former Kagero class Yukikaze, operated disarmed, as the Tan Yang, and rearmed as it was before in 1951 as well as an extensive refit. So yes, the Type 7 destroyers -Anshan class- were the first Chinese PLAN. Many more would follow, starting with the domestic mass-built Luda class. They were also the largest PLA? ships as the only British-built Chongking cruiser was salvaged, repaired, renamed Beijing and spent the rest of its career as a stationary prestige ship, not fit to action.


This came after the PLAN negotiated with Britain through Hong Kong for second-hand ships, which failed when the Korean War erupted. Therefore four destroyers of the pacific fleet were purchased from USSR instead with a whooping 17 tons of gold. But indeed the transfer of these partly Italian designed Gnevny-class destroyers was part of a larger deal also including the transfer of submarines, minesweepers and torpedo boats, along with Soviet instructors and plans to built Riga class frigates. At that time all four ships were worn-out veterans of ww2, the Rekordny herself having shot down two German airplanes during her service. This first ship #101 was named Anshan, after the industrial city in the province of Liaoning.

Specifications and modernization

The four ships went almost unmodified for most of their career, being only just refitted and repaired for proper service with their original armament. They had a similar problem of turbine vibrations at high speed, which could have been addressed. These were 2,040 tons fully loaded, 112.9 m (370 ft) long, 10.2 m (33 ft) wide, and with 3.8 m (12 ft) of draught, propelled by 2 shaft geared steam turbines, reaching 38 knots (70 km/h) for a 2,600 nautical miles (4,820 km) range at 20 knots (37 km/h) and a complement of 197. Their original armament comprised four single, shielded 130 mm guns, two 76 mm AA guns, four 37 mm QF autocannons, one single 20 mm, and most importantly two banks of three 533 mm TTs each. They had been somewhat lightly built for the Baltic of the black sea, and the Chinese managed to maintain these ships in good shape for a long career.

By 1971, they underwent a major overhaul at Dalian (soon “Luda”, contraction of nearby Dalian and Lushün). Boiler were changed, their electronic equipment were modernized, and more crucially, their former torpedo tubes were removed and replaced by missiles launchers (2×2) for SY-1A anti-ship missiles (some sources talks of HY-2), while their AA artillery was completely modified for four twin 37 mm autocannons. The HY-2 missiles were already obsolescent in 1971. Apparently after refit they reached a displacement of 2581 tons, their top speed falling down to 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph), not surprising after all these service years and the addition of missiles and electronic equipment. They had been renamed as Type 6607 Destroyers.

About the SY/HY missiles series
Called Silkworm by the West, Shang You or SY-series, they were derived from the Soviet P-15 Termit missile. They were low-tech missiles with limited electronics, meaning that when embarked on ships with larger electronic supplies, some shortcuts could appear when the full power was on, sometimes causing premature launches or detonations, which was answered by the later HY-serie. Produced and designed at Factory 320 (Nanchang Aircraft Factory), these received a more capable radar altimeter and the later SY-1A a mono-pulse terminal guidance radar to replace their former simple scanning radar. In full NATO terminology it was called the CSS-N-1 Scrubbrush.

The SY-2 was bulky at 6.55 m x 0.76 m with a 2.4 m wingspan, two tons, but carrying a 513 kg shaped charge high explosive at Mach 0.8 over 150 km, at 20 m controlled altitude and less to escape radars. Accuracy was estimated to be for the first kill: 70%. On the next SY-2 the former unstable engine was replaced by a solid fuel rocket engine and as the result the missile was made lighter and smaller. The warhead was changed also for a lighter time-delayed semi-armour-piercing HE charge. The serie would later go on to the HY-4 in the late 1970s, then swapped on the FL series and at least six other versions, not counting the export ones. The HY-1J were originally land-to-sea missiles developed for the type 051 destroyers (Luda).

HY-2J used by the Iraqi AF, recovered at Umm Qasr.

The land-to-ship HY-2 were identical but longer, and featured mid-mounted delta wings and three tail control surfaces. The altitude flight varied from 1000m after launch to 100-200m for the latter phase and 8m only for the terminal approach with a 90% estimated accuracy.


These ships known as the “four heavenly guardians” had range and high speed limitations and therefore were replaced soon by the Luda class, and spent their career guarding the Bohai gulf area. Ashan spent 38 years with the PLAN, and was visited several foreign dignitaries as well as Chinese leaders like Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, being the proud and largest ships in service with the Navy so far. Decommissioned in April 1992 she was later moved and anchored at the Naval Museum at Qingdao, still on display today. The three other ships had differing fates. These ships were withdrawn from active service circa 1991, but the Fu Chun (#104) was retained as a stationary training vessel at the Dalian Naval Academy.

The limitations of the type, not fit for oceanic operations, led to a new domestic design in 1966 (soon without Soviet assistance), the Luda class or 051 type destroyers, carefully modelled after the Kotlin class. The design was approved in 1967 and the first keel was laid down in 1968.

Anshan class specifications (1971)

Dimensions (est.) 112.9 x10.2 x3.8 m
Displacement 2581 t FL
Crew 197
Propulsion 2 propellers, 4 geared steam turbines, 100,000 hp
Speed 34 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Range 4,000 nautical miles
Armament 4(4×1)x130mm, 8(4×2)x37mm, 4(2×2) SY-1A SSM, 60 mines
Sensors Radars Cross bird, Square Tie, Mina, Neptune hull mounted sonar

Large picture of the preserved #101 Anshan at Qingdao from 1992 (unknown origin, imgurl image)

People’s Liberation Army Navy: Combat System Technology, 1949-2010 James Bussert, Bruce Elleman
China and International Security: History, Strategy, and 21st-Century Policy
Jane’s fighting ships 1981-82
The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History – Benjamin Lai
Conways all the world fighting ships 1947-1995

Anshan class
Impression by the author of the Anshan class, Fushun (# 102) ex-Rezkiy (Gnevny class).

Chinese Aircraft Carrier 001A

Chinese PLAN Chinese Popular Liberation Army Navy (2017)

Li Gang/Xinhua via AP

The Chinese Navy goes one step higher for naval dominance

Flash News !
That’s not everyday a new aircraft carrier is launched. Symbol of the times, it’s Chinese. Still unnamed, it was built at Dalian. The PLAN (Popular Liberation Army Navy) is already, since a few years, rated as the world’s third largest. Supreme symbol of a superpower’s strength and projection power, the aircraft carrier is at the highest level of any naval hierarchy. Subject of pride, the new Chinese aircraft carrier will back the 20-years old Liaoning. So what’s about this new kid in the block ? She joins the many other Asian aircraft carriers in service, showing the obvious Asian naval race and growing regional tensions of the last decade.

China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier is launched at a shipyard in the northeastern port city of Dalian on April 26, 2017. (Kyodo)

The 001A in brief

Form most analysts that could follow the ship’s construction at Dalian, this is undoubtedly a clone of the Russian Kuznetsov class carrier, a glorified, modernized copy. There was a model of it already available, as the Liaoning. First launched in the USSR as the Varyag, her transfer story alone was amazing. Once achieved at Dalian, the new aircraft carrier became the first ever featured by PLAN, and has since be at the forefront of massive naval force projection, especially in highly strategic contested areas in the Southern China Sea.

There was no doubt that a second one was needed if China wanted a permanent presence at sea as the center of a task force. That’s the same issue also seeked by Japan, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, the United States still largely ahead with 10 aircraft carriers, included two permanently deployed in Asia, the USS Carl Vinson being recently involved in intimidation maneuvers nearby the North Korean territorial waters.

The Varyag, then towed off Istambul, future Liaoning.

The new, still unnamed aircraft carrier (possibly called “Shandong” according to the province she was built in or even “Mao Zedong?”), is about the same size and width than the Liaoning, same characteristic superstructure inherited from the Soviet-era hybrid missile cruiser/aircraft carriers. Contrary to the 1970s Kiev class, the Kuznetsov class (now three ships indirectly with this last one) bears more resemblance with modern aircraft carriers, having comparatively a much larger deck, more catapults, and a much larger hangar, for a capacity of around 50 aircraft, including SU-33 fighter-bombers, largely more effective than the STOVL jets carried in what was a glorified cruiser/helicopter carrier.

Shenyang J-15 fighter
Shenyang J-15 fighter

Z9 SAR helicopter
Z9 SAR helicopter

It should be added that the Liaoning mostly performed training missions from 2012, and the PLAN had before that in 1985 purchased the HMAS Melbourne. The carrier was sold to the China United Shipbuilding Company for A$1.4 million, in order to be broken up, but was comprehensively studied and possibly in part reverse-engineered, as part of the top secret carrier development program. The Minsk and Kiev were also purchased and studied.

Development of the 001A

According to state media service Xinhua, initial work on the new ship began in November 2013, and the hull was in drydock by 2015. So a launch in 2017 is relatively quick, although the ship is way off completion, which could occur around 2020. The hull was largely finished by May 2016, the launch taking place in a great burst of mediatic pride on 25 April 2017. The new ship still has to go through fitting out and sea trials before making into service with PLAN. At that time, China would be the only naval power outside the USA to have two “true” aircraft carriers at sea simultaneously, a clear-cut rise in capabilities.

Inauguration at Dalian Shipyard 25, April, 2017

Armament and capabilities

Although little is known yet, the new Chinese aircraft carrier is estimated to carry 30 to 40 aircrafts of all types, including the possibility of a complement slightly larger than the Liaoning: Currently 24 Shenyang J-15 fighters (copy of Russian SU-33), six Changhe Z-18F ASW helicopters, four Changhe Z-18J airborne early warning helicopters (Glorified Super Frelon copy) and two Harbin Z-9C rescue helicopters (copy of the AS365 Dolphin).

According to CSIS, the control tower is approximately 10 percent smaller than that of the Liaoning, and displacement is also a few thousand more, around 8 additional aircraft and optimized internal arrangement.

001A island
001A island

As defined the ship still is given extra large proper missile capabilities, KJ-88, YJ-83K, and YJ-91 missiles. This means if the escort would be destroyed, the ship still retains a medium-range strike capability well-beyond those of Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, that relies primary on their own air force. In addition the 001A came with improved radar Type 346 S-band AESA system, and increased storage capacity for ammunition and fuel.

Japanese Izumo “helicopter destroyer”. The latter can deploy about 28 helicopters but also V22 Osprey and F-35A

Other Aircraft Carriers in Asia

China’s blue water navy ambitious programme only is getting started. After the CV16 (Liaoning), CV17 (001A), the CV19 (Type 002, est.2021) and CV20 (Type 003, est.2026?) are already listed, both CATOBAR (standard flat deck take-off). With four task forces, the PLAN would have the potential of ruling the whole pacific ocean, in addition to the nearby Indian ocean, Korea and China seas. Indeed, the US Fleet can deploy only the same number, roughly, of task forces in this sector at a time in peace time.
But that’s with the inaction of traditional, and rising regional naval powers:
Japan: 2 very large Izumo-class and 2 Hyūga-class “helicopter destroyers”
India: INS Vikramaditya, a former Soviet era Kiev hybrid cruiser/aircraft carrier
Thailand: Chakri Naruebet midget aircraft carrier (Spanish-built)
Australia: Canberra class assault aircraft carriers (Spanish built)


These are subject of changes and evolution, based on the latest available informations

001A specifications

Dimensions (est.) 300 x76 x9 m
Displacement 50,000/70,000 t FL
Crew 2500+
Propulsion 4 propellers, 4 Steam turbines, 200,000 hp
Speed 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Range 4,000 nautical miles
Armament 40 aircraft, see notes

Naval Encyclopedia plans about PLAN

The Chinese Navy is interesting strategically, and a very “hot” topic. So it will led in the near future to a complete, exhaustive and upgraded review of modern Chinese naval assets, including naval air force capabilities.

Forbes – Comparison infographics with USS G. Ford
About the 001A aircraft carrier (wikipedia)
About the Liaoning