• The new Chinese spy ship, CNS Kaiyangxing (856),

The new Chinese spy ship, CNS Kaiyangxing (856), (Photo : PLAN)

A new Chinese spy ship, the CNS Kaiyangxing (856), was commissioned into the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to support operations of the North Sea Fleet defending Beijing.

Kaiyangxing is a Type 815A electronic surveillance ship (or spy ship) and is among the newest Chinese electronic surveillance ships in service. The word Kaiyangxing is the Chinese word for the star named Mizar. Four of the five named spy ships in the Type 815A-class are named for planets in the solar system or stars.

Like Us on Facebook

Kaiyangxing is only one of five ships in the Type 815A-class. The others are CNS Tianwangxing (853); CNS Tianlangxing (854) and CNS Haiwangxing (852). There is another unnamed Type 815A only identified by its hull number 855.

The CNS Haiwangxing and 855 are assigned to the South Sea Fleet whose area of operations includes the disputed South China Sea.

PLAN also operates another spy ship, the CNS Beijixing (851), the only ship in the Type 815-class. PLAN operates six spy ships with two each assigned to each of the three PLAN fleets.

The Kaiyangxing was delivered to a combat support flotilla of the North Sea Fleet in Qingdao, Shandong province. PLAN held a ceremony commissioning the CNS Kaiyangxing into the navy on Jan. 16.

Kaiyangxing can conduct all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple and different targets, primarily the U.S. Navy. It displaces 6,000 metric tons and has a maximum speed of 37 km/h (20 knots).

In contrast to PLAN's six spy ships, the U.S. Navy deploys at least 15 electronic surveillance ships.

Chinese naval observers note PLAN faces mounting difficulties safeguarding China's maritime interests (including its illegal claim to own the South China Sea).

This means PLAN will need more spy ships to support the PLAN's operations on the open sea. Chinese spy ships are also important to PLAN carrier battle groups as providers of all kinds of theater intelligence.