Based on the “Riga”
The previous Chengdu class frigates (type 065) were ex-Soviet ships of the 1950s, “Riga” ASW warfare class shipped and assembled in China, as well as some blueprints, and with a lot of local ingenuity. They were launched in 1956-57 and served with the South China sea until the 1990s. By the early 1970s, these ships fo the Type 6601 class went through a mid-life upgrade: Their torpedo tubes banks were replaced by a twin launcher for SY-1 anti-ship missiles. They were redesignated as Type 01, but retained their Chengdu class general denomination. It is generally admitted they has been retired in 1993. Next, the Chinese tried to replicate locally this type of Frigate but the result was disappointing.
Rare photo of the Jiangnan type at sea – src: mail.dir.bg (pdf)
Sino-Soviet split and consequences
Following the Sino-Soviet split and the withdrawal of Soviet aid, the Wuhan No. 701 Institute started reverse-engineering the Type 01 in 1962 to replicate the ship with Chinese means. The design was called Type 065, still based on the Riga hull but with a long forecastle intended to house the larger diesels. These were of civilian grade, procuring a slower speed but a much greater range. This was also the recoignition the Chinese were unable at that time to replicate the Soviet compact high-pressure steam turbines. Sources contradict themselves about what frigate was launched and where. The first was apparently 529 Haikou, at Huangpu, commissioned in August 1966.
The yard was renamed Jiangnan Shipbuilding Factory (Chinese: 江南造船廠; pinyin: Jiāngnán Zàochuán Chǎng) in 1953 and in 1966 became a subsidiary of the state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation. This was the yard responsible for the production of all five ships, either at Shanghai or Canton. For NATO the name Jiangnan/Kiangnan stuck “Nan” is south in Chinese.
The Type 065 design was still strongly based on the Type 6601/01. In December 1962, 701st Institute in Wuhan started with the original blueprints, but it appareared were soon unable ro find the right way of replicating some intricate parts of the Soviet turbine, especially due to a lack of suitable materials. Forced to swap to an existing powerplant akready produced in China, the institute team was forced to redesign the hull to house it. The flush deck could not be kept anymore and a long forecastle was designed. This was not the only difference. The rest of the hull, prow and stern, witdth and lenght were identical to the Riga type, but artillery, mainly because of consideration of weight, was rearranged: Two if the 100 mm turrets were relocated to the rear, only one was kept on the forward deck. Just behind, was located a 37mm AA mount. Two others were located on the wings of the new superstructure. A local version of the Soviet MBU-1800 ASW rocket launchers were also installed on the deck. The bridge was modified, lower, as well as the main rangefinder.
Model kit photo of the type
The main mast was a lighter tripod, supporting more modern and smaller electronics. These comprised a NATO designated “Ball Gun” radar, Wok Won, Neptune navigation system, and assumed bow sonar. The single funnel was about the same as the previous Frigate, in the center of the ship. in place of the mid-deck torpedo tubes there was the aft superstructure, carrying another 37 mm AA mount and just behind were located the two 100 mm turrets. Turret “B” was only on a slight superfiring position as due to the shape of the hull and forecastle, the gap in height was only 1.50m here. Aft were located four ASW mortars. Modified German-based civilian diesel engines were able to provide power, but with a significant speed loss. As a result, these ships were no longer capable to catch the fastest submarines in service, especially Soviet SNAs of the November class. The locally designed 100mm semi-automated dual purpose main guns resembled the originals but performances are not known with precision. There ere also two rails for ASW grenades in the stern, and the ship was equipped for minelaying.
The Jiangnan in service
After final blueprints were approved, construction started in August 1964. The first ship entered service on Aug 1, 1966. They were crititicized for their weak armament, lacking the space to accomodate either missiles launchers or torpedo tubves. Only their AA and ASW defences seemed improved (although obsolete by the 1970s), at the cost of their anti-ship capabilities, limited to their main guns. Their electroncs suite was also obsolete in the 1970s. One of these ships engaged the South Vietnamese navy in 1974, showing their lack of suitable armament, but it was not deiced to upgrade them. These four ships were retired from active duty in the late 1980s. They were retained for training, one ship being later converted as a museum, and another became a public relations ship. So as old as they are they are still listed (Conways states they are “extant” in 1995) in the PLAN’s naval records.
Impression of the Jiangnan class Frigate (Conways)
|Dimensions||91 m (299 ft) x 10.2 m (33 ft) x Draugh 3.16 m (10.4 ft)|
|Displacement||1350 long tons, 1,600 t FL|
|Propulsion||2 shafts 12 cyl? diesels 20,000 hp ?|
|Armament||2 MBT 1800 ASW RL, 4 DCT, 2 DC rails, 3x 100 mm DP, 8 x 37 mm AA (4×2), 4 x 14.5 mm (2×2)|
|Sensors||“Ball gun”, “Wok Won” radars, “Neptune” navigation system, 1 sonar|
Conways’ all the world fighting ships 1947-1995
The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History By Benjamin Lai
Type 053 frigates versions
color rendition on photobucket