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 Navyโ€™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 Somersetโ€™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 Navyโ€™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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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 DoD and USN intelligence service etc say about this subject. I know that the UK and China are not enemies, and I hope that the two countries will never have to fight, but its a bit arrogant and ignorant to believe that an up and coming nation like China doesn’t have the capabilities to design and development and build decent equipment. I know that many of the comments are probably light hearted but many countries have made the mistake of underestimating and disparaging a competitor or a potential opponent.


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