China’s navy has launched the first ship from a forthcoming fleet of new stealth frigates, as tensions with neighboring countries over Beijing’s maritime claims run high.
The Type 056 stealth frigate was delivered to the Chinese navy in Shanghai on Monday, state-run Xinhua News Agency said.
The vessel features a sleek design that helps it evade radar detection and needs a crew of just 60, two-thirds fewer than older vessels. The ship will be mainly deployed on escort missions and for anti-submarine operations.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy is building a total of 20 Type 056 Jiangdao class frigates as part of a systematic upgrading of naval hardware to bolster China’s ability to safeguard national security and defend maritime sovereignty, according to an Associated Press report.
China is seeking to become a “maritime power” amid territorial disputes with a number of neighboring countries over maritime borders.
Beijing launched its first aircraft carrier, the overhauled Soviet-era Liaoning, last year. Chinese patrol vessels were also frequently deployed near disputed territories in a show of its military muscle.