The Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) celebrated its 69th birthday not long ago, and the recent sea parade demonstrated its newly-developed depths. Let’s take a look of the features of the PLA Navy’s three fleets.
Historically, the building of the PLA Navy had different focuses in different times, and therefore, the three naval fleets had unique abilities in different periods.
The East China Sea Fleet was established on Apr. 23, 1949(Birthday of the PLA Navy). The South China Sea Fleet was established in December, 1950. The names of the two fleets were officially established in 1955.
The establishment of the North China Sea Fleet was much later. It was not established until 1960. The reason is that in 1955, China took back from the Soviet Union the most important military port of today's North China Sea Fleet, the Lvshun naval base.
The North China Sea Fleet was the strongest fleet in the PLA Navy at that time because it deployed four Type-07 destroyers in Qingdao, which was bought from the Soviet Union in 1954, to safeguard Beijing, Tianjin and the Bohai Bay.
The North China Sea Fleet remained the strongest Chinese naval fleet until the early 1990s.
China’s first homegrown guided-missile destroyer, Type-051, was made in the 1970s. The first ship, of that class, Jinan (Hull 152), joined the North China Sea Fleet. The ports of China’s first generation of nuclear submarines including Type 091 and Type 092 were all under the North China Sea Fleet. The first Type-052 destroyer was a second-generation vessel with strong anti-aircraft, anti-surface, and anti-submarine combat capabilities. Destroyers Harbin (Hull 112) and Qingdao (Hull 113), of that class, were also deployed to the North China Sea Fleet in the early 1990s.
However, with complications arising in the situations on the southeast coast, the East China Sea Fleet began to have priority in obtaining new warships from the 1990s to the 2000s.
In order to resolve the state of "difficult births" of new naval destroyers, four Type 956E/956EM "Modern" guided-missile destroyers imported from Russia were deployed to the East China Sea Fleet. In the same period, new warships such as Kilo-class submarines were also deployed to the East China Sea as a priority.
However, the South China Sea Fleet became the most prominent fleet after 2005. The third-generation destroyers of the PLA Navy, Type 052B and Type 052C, were all deployed to the South China Sea Fleet. The first four Type 052D destroyers were also deployed there around 2014.
With the development of China’s military shipbuilding industry, new types of destroyers, frigates, and submarines continue to be commissioned to the PLA Navy. The strength of the three fleets of PLA Navy is now more balanced. For example, the PLA Navy’s new generation Type 052D destroyers have been deployed to all three PLA Navy fleets.
Disclaimer: The article is extracted from an article on ifeng.com and translated from Chinese into English by the China Military online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn. Chinamil.com.cn does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.