Photo: Image Surfaces Rumored to Be of New Zumwalt-like Chinese Stealth Vessel

© Liz WolterUSS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) passes under the Gov. William Preston Lane Memorial Bridge, also known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) passes under the Gov. William Preston Lane Memorial Bridge, also known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.02.2022
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While it is probably not a new class of warship preparing to enter combat duty, the mysterious vessel that recently appeared on Chinese social media could indicate interest by Beijing in testing out improved low-visibility designs.
A blurry, gray photo that appeared on a popular military-focused Sina Weibo account has generated chatter in military enthusiast circles.
At first glance, the vessel in the image seems to resemble the USS Zumwalt, a stealthy destroyer used by the US Navy with a highly unusual design intended to minimize its appearance on enemy radars. It seems to have a sloped, tumblehome design with a central command island, just as the Zumwalt does.
© Sina WeiboPurported image of a Chinese stealth vessel that appeared on Sina Weibo in February 2022
Purported image of a Chinese stealth vessel that appeared on Sina Weibo in February 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.02.2022
Purported image of a Chinese stealth vessel that appeared on Sina Weibo in February 2022
A caption included with the photo suggests the vessel is out for trials. However, almost nothing else is known about the ship, including its size.
The opinion of Naval News author and naval expert H.I. Sutton is that the photo is not a hoax, “but caveats apply,” he wrote on Wednesday.
He noted that the vessel is likely small, perhaps the size of the US Navy’s Sea Hunter autonomous vessels, since anything larger would have been noticed by either satellites or shipyard watchers, both of whom regularly take photos of China’s major known drydocks to track the progress of ships under construction.
The same Weibo user who shared the image later noted that the silhouette bears a certain similarity to a futuristic ship that appeared on promotional artwork from Jiangnan Shipyard, a Shanghai facility that produces much of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s surface fleet.
© Jiangnan ShipyardPromotional poster by Jiangnan Shipyard showing an imagined stealth warship similar to the USS Zumwalt
Promotional poster by Jiangnan Shipyard showing an imagined stealth warship similar to the USS Zumwalt - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.02.2022
Promotional poster by Jiangnan Shipyard showing an imagined stealth warship similar to the USS Zumwalt
China has already developed several warships that apply some principles of stealthy construction, ranging from the small Type 022 missile boat to the massive Type 055 cruiser.
However, it was the US Navy who seemed to be inspired by Chinese technology recently, not the other way around: a proposed design for the Navy’s forthcoming CG(X) cruiser that appeared in a naval symposium last month bore an eerie resemblance to China’s Type 055 cruiser.
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