HMS Somerset has met and escorted the Chinese warship Xiangtan as she passes through the English channel on her way to the North Sea.

The Type 054A frigate Xiangtan is a multi-role frigate. As of 2016, 22 of the class are in service. The vessel is a development of the Type 054 frigate, using the same hull but with improved sensors and weapons.

The Type 054A was first revealed while under construction at the Guangzhou-based Huangpu Shipyard in 2005. The class somewhat resemble the French La Fayette-class frigates in shape and displacement. In addition, the Chinese reportedly used French, or French-derived, electronics and weapons.

HMS Somerset is a Type 23 frigate, the type form the core of the Royal Navy’s destroyer and frigate fleet and serve alongside the Type 45 destroyers. Originally designed for anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic, the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates have proven their versatility in warfighting, peace-keeping and maritime security operations around the globe. Thirteen Type 23 frigates remain in service with the Royal Navy, with three vessels having been sold to Chile and handed over to the Chilean Navy.

According to BFBS, “HMS Somerset established constructive communications with the Xiangtan after she entered the Channel from the Atlantic on Wednesday, and on request the Plymouth-based frigate provided the ship with a weather forecast.”

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

“The UK enjoys positive relations with China and the Royal Navy has once again provided a secure escort around our shores. The UK strongly supports the right of all States to exercise freedom of navigation in accordance with international law.”

HMS Somerset’s Commanding Officer, Commander Michael Wood said:

“This was the second Chinese naval group to enter the Channel within the last eight months and duties of this type are routinely conducted on passing warships from non-NATO navies.

It signals the Royal Navy’s readiness to provide security at sea while being minded to promote friendly partnerships with others.”

The encounter comes after a delegation from China visited Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in April.

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Probably just my lack of knowledge in the area but the Chinese frigate looks more advanced than ours. Is that actually the case?

Well they are of a newer design so they reflect more modern views on stealth outer shape. The combat systems and weapons are of course more relevant in any discussion of how advanced they are in reality and their associated combat effectiveness.

Ours is 29 years old and theirs is 1. That’s the difference in age.

Careful Brits, the Chinese might take one of your islands like they did ours.


They can keep jersey 🙂

The Type 23 has been upgraded in that timescale, and the gap in capability may not be as big as it first seems, there is also the question of how capable Chinese equipment actually is…

I’m surprised the Chinese have the logistical support to deploy a ship this far away ? plus just wait for the type 26 to come out and show china who is boss


They will be able to dock anywhere on request if they need shelter or repairs, surprised there was no Oiler with it though. Where has she sailed from?

You could give the Royal Navy wooden ships. I’d still put my money on the royal navy ???

I guess it is the weapon systems that count rather than the ship itself anyway.

Henry Leggett It seems that somebody’s been reading the posts that this page puts out!

Type 23s are (gradually) going to be replaced in the next decade or so as I understand it.

Based on other Chinese military equipment, it will visually look impressive, but use very dated, poor engines, defense weaponry and technology.


It actually looks a fine FFG on paper.

Andy Kesson

In this case yes.
You wouldn’t send your Farrari to taxi the mothering law from the local to her destination would you?..
In this case also, gave us a look at the Chinese ship while they looked at our old ones..
What by the way have the same weapons systems (if deemed nessisary) as are new ships.
Just ain’t much to look at!

Graeme Robertson

You would think that they could find there way without someone holding their hand

We usually escort foreign warships past our coast. Would you prefer a Chinese destroyer(?) running about the Channel un-escorted!?

Graeme Robertson

No rather they stayed home

Kevin Connor

Ive been on that ship !!

Ayoub Mahmoud Ayoub

يعني نحن هنا

Jonathon Tucker

Which one is best on technology

Rich Yelland

Chinese, look how old ours looks lol

Ben Carmichael

Ours do get modernised. They don’t just keep the original equipment. Also Chinese technology ? Probably won’t work during actual combat


Based on the report, they are missing the technological advancement of the internet, needing to ask our ship what the weather forecast was.

On a bright side, we actually had a frigate available this time and didn’t need to rely on a river class.


We don`t have FRE`s anymore?

Peter Day

Chinese ship made by matel toys. lol

“British warship escorts Chinese warship”

come on, be a little more informative as to the class of the Chinese vessel or keep the same level of description for both parties.


Chinese Type 054 A.

Alasdair Blackadder

Wouldn’t say the Chinese tech is poor! The reason it looks French is probably because they have hacked the French equivalent of BAE systems and copied their designs and upgraded them, much the same reason as they have advanced submarine capability and 5th generation fighter technology from hacking American/British defence firms! It’s probably armed with defensive and offensive weapon systems and advanced electronic warfare from their Russian friends


The French probably sold them the blueprints 🙂

Gareth Jones

Surprised it made it this far Chinese steel rusts faster than it takes the sun go down

Dennis Fraser

So that’s the navy’s fuel allocation for the year used up then


The real escort is unseen and below the waves – no foreign navy can escape our submariners

Si Yip

I noticed how many comments allude to the low quality of Chinese products, even though the cost of Chinese vessels, tanks, aircraft are not that much different from western equipment. If anyone really thinks that the type of workers and the factories that build the new Chinese carriers, SSBNs, J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters, Z-10 and Z-19 attack helicopters, DF-21s, HQ-16/9/19/23 (various SAM and Anti Ballistic missile and Anti Satellite missiles) PL-15 AAMs etc etc really are the same type of people and factories that produce DVD’s and cuddly toys, then they should have a look at what the US… Read more »