SPOTD: China’s Hulking Spy Ship
The Yuanwang (which means “Long View” in Mandarin) class of ships are used for tracking and support of satellite and intercontinental ballistic missiles by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The details are highly classified but the Yuanwang class are thought to have a displacement tonnage of around 21,000 tons when fully loaded, with a crew of about 470, a length of about 190 metres (620 ft), and a top speed of 20 knots.
The first Yuanwang ship was proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1965, and the idea was personally approved by Mao Zedong in 1968. The first two ships of the class, Yuanwang 1 and Yuanwang 2, were built at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai and put to sea on 31 August 1977 and 1 September 1978 respectively. The Yuanwang-5 (pictured above) was launched in 2007 and the latest ship, the Yuanwang-7, was launch on July 12th, 2016.
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