China on Sunday commissioned its first fourth generation guided-missile destroyer, which is expected to accompany aircraft carriers in new battle groups.
The warship named Nanchang was commissioned by People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in the port city of Qingdao, official media reported.
Launched on June 28, 2017, the Type 055 destroyer is equipped with new air defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.
The commissioning of Nanchang marks the Navy's leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, a statement issued by PLAN said.
Having a displacement of more than 10,000 tons, the Type 055 is a 180-meter-long, 20-meter-wide guided missile destroyer with 112 vertical launch missile cells capable of launching a combination of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, land-attack missiles and anti-submarine missiles, according to media reports.
Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said that Nanchang is expected to accompany aircraft carriers in battle group, state-run Global Times reported.
The Type 055 will serve as a powerful escort to aircraft carriers and is also very versatile and can lead a task group without a carrier and conduct a wide range of missions, Li said.
Five other Type 055 destroyers have been launched at the Dalian Shipyard, Northeast China's Liaoning Province and Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, according to reports.
China has two aircraft carriers and building more.
Official media reports said that China plans to build five to six aircraft carriers in the near future.
Also on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping conferred China's top science award to Huang Xuhua, the chief designer of China's first-generation nuclear submarines.
Expanding its navy at a feverish pace as part of its efforts to increase its global influence, China reportedly has about a fleet of 68 submarines which include nuclear as well as conventional submarines.
China is constructing a major underground nuclear submarine base near Sanya, Hainan. The base could be capable of hiding up to 20 nuclear submarines from spy satellites, reports said.
As the first Asian country to have developed nuclear submarines, China has been operating N-submarine since 1970.
Since then the N-submarines carried out major upgrades and started taking part in battle groups since 1990.
In 1988, Huang took the vessel to its maximum depth to test it, a task so dangerous that many crew members wrote farewell letters to their families to be delivered in the event of their death, state-run China Daily reported on Sunday.
Huang was also one of the eight recipients of the Medal of the Republic last year for his outstanding contributions to the nation.