Friday, November 18, 2011

Type 091 Han Class

China had produced its first diesel boat, nuclear propulsion for submarines was adopted as a national priority by Mao himself. The daunting challenge that this entailed only became fully clear after Moscow refused Beijing's explicit request to share nuclear propulsion technology, on the grounds that it would be premature for the PLAN. Foreshadowing the imminent souring of Sino-Soviet relations, Mao reacted indignantly:

With a fully loaded displacement of 5000 tons, this class is armed with six 533mm torpedoe tubes. Given that China's first-generation nuclear submarines were developed against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that their operational performance was considerably inferior to that of contemporary American or Russian vessels. The Han-class SSNs are noted for problems, including high internal radiation levels and an inability to fire missiles while submerged, which compromise their operational effectiveness and their wartime utility against ASW-competent adversaries. The lead boats (401 & 402?) suffered radiation problems which were thought to have been solved after extensive refit. But since the late 1990s they appeared to have become inoperational. According to some reports, as of 2000 only two of its Han-class SSNs remained operational, despite the extended re-fits to the units of this class.


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