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Yuan Wang-class tracking ship
Yuanwang 2 in Auckland, New Zealand on 27 October 2005. The ship was resupplying after being at sea to support the Shenzhou 6 flight
Yuanwang 2 in Waitemata Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand on 27 October 2005. The ship was resupplying after being at sea to support the Shenzhou 6 spaceflight.
Class overview
Builders: Yuan Wang 1 and 2 - Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai / Yuan Wang 3 to 6 - China State Shipbuilding Corporation, Shanghai
Operators: People's Liberation Army Navy
Preceded by: none
Succeeded by: none
Active: 6
General characteristics
Type: tracking ship
Displacement: ~21,000 Long ton (Yuan Wang 1 and 2: 10,000+ / Yuan Wang 3 and 4 18,000)
Length: Yuan Wang 1 - 156.09 m / Yuan Wang 2 - 191 metres; Yuan Wang 3-6 - N/A
Beam: Yuan Wang 1 - 20.6 metres / Yuan Wang 2 - 22 metres; Yuan Wang 3-6 - N/A
Propulsion: Sulzer Ltd. diesel engine
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h)
Complement: Yuan Wang 1 - 200 / Yuan Wang 2 - 470; Yuan Wang 3-6 - N/A
Aircraft carried: none, but capable of handling either Super Frelon or Z-8
Aviation facilities: none

The Yuanwang-class (远望; meaning "Long View") 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 detailed specifications of the ships are not released by the PLAN. They are thought to have a displacement tonnage of around 21,000 Long ton when fully loaded, with a crew of about 470 and a length of about 190 meters (620 ft). Their propulsion is from one Sulzer Ltd. diesel engine, with a top speed of 20 knots (37 km/h).

The class was first 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 general designer of this class is Mr. Xu Xueyan (许学彦, 1924- ). For the first time, this gave the PRC the ability to track launches and satellites that were not over their territory.

The first survey mission of the two ships was during May 1980. After being used for tracking of the launches of indigenously developed communications satellites, Yuanwang 1 and Yuanwang 2 underwent overhauls in 1986, so they could be used for supporting international satellite launches by the PRC.

Two further ships of the class have been built. First was Yuanwang 3, commissioned on 20 October 1995. The Yuanwang 4 tracking ship was constructed by China State Shipbuilding Corporation and delivered to the China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General on 18 July 1999. It had been converted from the previously used Xiang Yang Hong 10 scientific survey ship.

Another two Yuanwang-class vessels were launched in Shanghai in early 2007.[1]

Pictures of Yuanwang 6 were published. Both Yuanwang 5 and the newly commissioned ship were on duty for the Shenzhou 7 mission.[2]

During the Shenzhou spacecraft flights, the four ships were positioned with:[3]

  • Yuanwang 1 in the Yellow Sea
  • Yuanwang 2 about 1500 km (about 900 statute miles) southwest of French Polynesia
  • Yuanwang 3 off the Namibian coast
  • Yuanwang 4 off the coast of Western Australia in the Indian Ocean

Fleet List

  • Yuanwang 1 - 1977
  • Yuanwang 2 - 1978
  • Yuanwang 3 - 1995
  • Yuanwang 4 - 1999
  • Yuanwang 5 - 2007
  • Yuanwang 6 - 2007
  • Yuanwang 21 - Launched on 29 November 2012, Long March 5 transport ship

See also

A list of similar ships:

French Navy

Russian navy/ Soviet Navy

United States Navy


External links

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