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Yuan Wang class

Space event ship

Yuan Wang class ship

The Yuan Wang class space event ships are also used to collect intelligence

Country of origin China
Entered service 1979
Crew ?
Sea endurance ?
Dimensions and displacement
Length 186 m
Beam 22.6 m
Draught 7.5 m
Displacement, standard 17 100 tons
Displacement, full load 18 400 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 20 knots
Diesel engines 1 x 17 400 hp
Helicopters Super Frelon or Z-8


   First seen during the May 1980 intercontinental ballistic missile test series in the central Pacific, the Yuan Wang class of satellite- and missile-tracking ships is an important part of China's space technology and missile-testing programme and as such operates as both missile range instrumentation ships (AGM) and intelligence collection ships (AGI). The four vessels, the Yuan Wang 1 to Yuan Wang 4, were built by the Jiangnan yard in Shanghai and commissioned in 1979 (first two), April 1995 and late 1996. For their tracking and monitoring duties they carry a large parabolic tracking antenna amidships, two log-periodic HF antennae (fore and aft) shaped like fish spines, two small missile-tracking radars and several precision theodolite optical tracking director stations. There are also several additional positions available for the retrofit of later equipment. A bow thruster and retractable fin stabilizers are fitted for station keeping and stability in rough seas.

   For vertical replenishment and personnel transfer there is a large helicopter deck located aft, but this lacks hangar facilities. Initially French Aerospatiale Super Frelon helicopters were used for this role. A small batch of 12 or 13 of these helicopters was, as well as production license was acquired from France. These were delivered between 1975 and 1977. Later the Super Frelon was replaced by its indigenous version, the Changhe Z-8 naval helicopter.

   To support these vessels the Chinese Academy of Sciences also has a fleet of research ships sailing under the name Xiang Yang Hong (East is Red) and individual numbers. These vessels can undertake several roles including general oceanographic, upper atmosphere missile and satellite research as well as hydrometeorology.

   The third and fourth Yuan Wangs differ from their predecessors mainly in details of their structure, their construction being evidence of the momentum toward the launch of manned spacecraft. Such vessels will then assume the communications relay role. The Yuan Wangs are in service with the East Sea Fleet.



Yuan Wang class ship


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