The first week of October was a special occasion when it came to naval visitors to the River Thames as it saw the arrival of three vessels from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Surface Force.
The three ships have been on a long-term deployment as part of China’s desire to promote its global influence and whilst in European waters they have conducted joint exercises with the Russian navy as well as visiting a number of European ports.
The first two vessels to arrive were a pair of Type 054A multi-role frigates in the shape of Huanggang (577) and Yangzhou (578) which are both less than 3 years old.
This class of Frigate carries anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine missile launchers as well as a 76mm main gun and close-in weapons systems (CIWS) for self-defence – the ships are also each carrying one Harbin Z-9 SAR / ASW helicopters.
The Frigates will spend a few days in West India Dock.
The following video shows the two Frigates arriving on a very windy Thames.
Later that same day the Gaoyouhu (AOR 966), a Qiandaohu-class or Type 903A, replenishment ship arrived in London’s Royal Docks to spend a few days in the King George V dock.
As the Gaoyouhu is a large vessel it took two Svitzer tugs to help maneuver her through the Lock to her mooring in the King George V Dock.
This ship, which is less than two years old, carries fuel and solid stores and is equipped for Replenishment at Sea (RAS) operations and is also helicopter capable.
Updated on 4th October – a trip up to West India Dock to see the two Frigates and their embarked Z-9C helicopters initially yielded another angle on the Gaoyouhu in KGV Dock.
It was then over to WID to see the two Frigates that were alongside each other.
The main attraction was that both the embarked Z-9Cs were out on deck, although not best positioned to get clear photographs they are still extremely rare sightings!!
Update 7th October – all three Chinese Navy Warships have now left the Thames in London.
Svitzer tugs Bootle and Brunel arrived at the King George V lock early afternoon and then proceeded in to the KGV Dock to tow PLAN Gaoyouhu backwards in to the lock and then out in to the Thames.
A full video of the tow is shown below.
The two Frigates that had been in West India Dock also passed down river in turn.
As PLAN Huanggang passed by it also provided a chance to check out some of the weapons fit.
A few more pictures can be seen here.