Type 024 Hoku class FAC (1965)

Type 024 Hoku class FAC (1965)

Chinese PLAN PCFG Houku/Hegu Class, Type 024 aka Project 24/EM1A.
Chinese PLAN (1968-77) – about 110 built

The Chinese “Komar”

The Type 6623 was one of the Type five boats transferred from the Soviet Union to China according to the “Twenty-Four Agreement” between China and the Soviet Union in 1959. It was known as Proyekt 183R (NATO Komar), guided-missile speedboat in Soviet Navy nomenclature. It was using a wooden hull, like the 6602 torpedo boat she was based on, but its torpedo tubes were exchanged for 2 “Styx” anti-ship missile launchers. The rear deck was modified to cope with the launching airflow and covered with a layer of rigid Heat-resistant patterned aluminum plate. The original open bridge was modified into a steel airtight pilot and command room, so that bridge personnel could take refuge in it when launching missiles.

Preserved Type 024 missile boat #3139 at the PLA's coastal forces museum
Preserved Type 024 missile boat #3139 at the PLA’s coastal forces museum.

Development timeline

In the 1950s, the Soviet Leningrad-Petrovsky Shipyard converted a P6 class torpedo boat into a missile boat with a displacement of 70 tons and 40 knots, creating the first guided missile boat in the world. This became the “Komar class” (NATO).
In 1960, according to drawings and materials provided by the Soviet Union to China, the Wuhu Shipyard started trial production of the Komar (“Mosquito”). Due to the withdrawal of experts from the Soviet Union as Sino-Soviet diplomacy broke off, supplies also abruptly stopped. By completing the blanks, the institute was able to complete a first prototype boat, number 051, launched in August 1962. Technical problems were encountered during the sea trials. For example, the trim angle of the hull was too large due to the weight of the missile aft. Its speed as also too limited as the power of the main engine remained unchanged while the displacement rose.

The severe vibrations of the hull al affected missile aiming and this affected also the radar operating conditions. After solving all these problems, the final prototype boat was delivered to the navy in August 1964 for acceptance trials. In 1965, the prototype tested missiles for the first time. Soon after, two more tests ships of the type 6623 were built. By that time engineers identified the wooden hull of the boat to be difficult to maintain in China, other solutions had to be found to prevent corrosion and replication of equipment previously imported from the Soviet Union was not yet complete.

The Komar class
The Komar class (Author’s illustration)

Hoku class, author's illustration
Hoku class, author’s illustration to compare

Genesis of the Type 6624

In November 1964, already the PLAN admiralty and Office of National Defense Industry ordered the 701 Research Institute to develop the Type 024 missile speedboat as an imprved version of the Type 6623. Hua Qiru presided over the design. The main purpose was to create a new steel hull, with underwater line also optimized, side platform eliminated, width narrowed to achieve greater speeds, as well as the hull lengthened for the same effect. Lateral distance between the missile launcher was shortened from 1.5 meters to just 1.0 meter. Also the main mast of the truss was changed to a single column mast. Chief architect Wu Zhongyan helped to design with his team the first boat of (future) Type 024 speedboat, in only 5 months. Construction of the prototype started in April 1966. It was launched in August 1966 and tested missiles in October 1966. These tests ere successful to it was delivered in December. Production however at that time was severely affected by the Cultural Revolution. It was not until 1971 that mass production was ramped up at the Wuhu and Shanghai Qiuxin Shipyards. Production ended in February 1975.

Type 024 missile boat exposed to the public
Type 024 missile boat exposed to the public

Design of the Type 024 Hoku

The Type 024 missile boat is designed and manufactured by China on the basis of the Type 6623 “Mosquito” class missile boat. In August 1962, the first imitation of the Type 6623 guided missile boat was launched at Wuhu Shipyard. However, during the sea trial, some problems with the boat were discovered: the trim angle of the boat was too large, it could not meet the navigational requirements when launching missiles, the speed could not go up, and the radar and command instrument were not working properly. The replica boat of the 6623 type boat is actually a scientific research boat. Since then, Chinese scientific and technical personnel have redesigned and modified the boat, such as moving the gyro platform of the commander part to reduce vibration, replacing radar components, and ensuring its normal operation. At the same time, the hull of the boat has also been greatly improved.

Conway's profile of the Hoku class
Conway’s profile of the Hoku class

First, the wooden structure of the original boat was changed to an all-steel structure. Measures were taken to reduce resistance and trim angle. A wedge plate was added to the stern to increase the size of the boat. The tail buoyancy finally solves the problem of navigation and satisfies the requirements of launching missiles. Afterwards, the propeller was redesigned, and the speed of the boat and the speed of the main engine also reached the requirements, which greatly increased the speed of the boat. This newly designed one type boat is the Type 024 missile boat. Since then, the boat has undergone many major improvements in accordance with the requirements of the Navy. In 1966, after completing a series of work procedures such as launching, sea trials, and missile tests, the Type 024 missile boat formally entered the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy and participated in combat readiness duties.

The Heku (“Hoku”) class is in fact the name of the main version of Type 024 missile boat. It is also called Hegu class, Hogu class, Hougu class or Houku class, depending on spelling and pronunciation. “Hoku” is the reference from Conway’s so i stuck to it. The Chinese brought many innovations to the Komar, which formed a large part of the “green water” navy, essentially defensive, that Characterized the plan in the years 1980s. The first was acquired in 1965, two were delivered in 1967, and seventy in the 1968-71 period. The building program was swift as about ten were built per year. The steel hull, quite an improvement over the Komar, was designed by the 701st Institute (Wuhu). The missile launcher was also brand new, designed by the 713th Institute. Some reports suggested that China provided Iran 10 Hegu Class fast assault boats with the C-802, but these appear to confuse the delivery 10 Houdong (a variant of the Huangfeng) missile boats, and has been debunked since. An export variant of the standard Houku/Hegu Class was also offered with 4 C-801 SSM launchers in place of the original 2 HY-2 launchers (no sells). This helped modernizing the last remaining in service.


2M3 AA guns: The distinctive forward mount twin tandem 25mm/80 2M-3. This gun was based upon the 84-KM designed in 1943-44, from specifications developed in 1945-1947, tested in 1949, accepted in 1953 as 110-PM and manufactured in several variants until 1984. These were fed from 65-round belts or 7-round clips and designated 2M-3, later modified into 2M-3M with gas-operation recoil pistons and 470 – 480 rpm. The Chinese version is a faithful copy of 1959, weighting 101 kg with a 80° elevation, 2.8 km range (antiship role) and a ceiling of 1.7 km.

HY-2 Missiles:
The Shang You or SY-series and Hai Ying or HY-series (‘Sea Eagle’) were early Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles derived from the Soviet P-15 Termit. NATO designation is Silkworm.
Dimensions: 7.48 m, Diameter 0.76 m, Wingspan: 2.4 m.
Launch weight: 2,998 kg
Warhead: 513 kg, shaped charge high-explosive
Propulsion: Liquid rocket engine and one solid rocket booster
Speed: Mach 0.8, Range 200 km, altitude below 20 m
Guidance: Inertial + active conical scanning terminal guidance radar, single-shot hit probability: 90%

Specifications type 024 Hoku

Dimensions (88.6 x 20.7 x 4.3 ft)
Displacement 79.2 long tons FL
Crew 17 (2 officers)
Propulsion 4 shafts L-12V-180 diesels 4,800 hp(m) (3.53 MW)/td>
Speed/Range 37.5 kts, 400 nm at 30 kts
Armament twin 25mm/80 (2M-3) AA, Two HY-2/C-201 SSM
Sensors Radar Square Tie (Type 352E) missile FCR, IFF

Derivative: The Homa class

In addition to the development of the Hoku class missile boat, a single unit of Type 024 production fitted with hydrofoils was also developed. It was called the Homa class missile boat, but the design proved to be less satisfactory. The single unit delivered to the People’s Liberation Army Navy for evaluation, was later removed from service.
Also referred to as Project EM1B, its hydrofoil seems on paper a way to achieve greater speeds, at 40-45 knots and more. But this was never achieved. It is unclear why the project was discontinued. The Homa class was offered for export in 1986, but no sales had been made.
Specifications: Length 28 m, Beam 6.6 m, Displacement 85 tons FL, four shafts, M50 diesels for 5,600 bhp, 38 knots, endurance 500 nm at 25 kts, crew 20, a single twin 25mm/80 cal (2M-3) AA gun forward, two HY-2/C-201 missiles. Radar “Square Tie” (Type 352E) for surface search and missile fire control radar.


The main cabin id divided into operating compartments for the four 4 electromechanical operators of the missiles, two per rear cabin. The front as the rear of the hull, below the deck, is also separated into four compartment, two crew compartments at the front, and two at the rear, housing the two main engines and one auxiliary engine. Forward is located the former main cabin squad leader. The engine chief, a non-commissioned officer is in the battle position on the bridge, as the firing officer. He executes the captain’s order and transmits it to the engine room through the bell and light signals. The average temperature in the engne room was about 50°C, while the diesel engines noise make it difficult to endure on the long run. Vibration could reach, when at full speed, up to 1100 Hz, consistent with the resonance frequency of the ship, helping not making it break apart. However when engine pitch is accelerated, there was a set limit at 1100 rpm for safety. It could be overruled only for emergency, otherwise the hull could be severely damaged. Each time the engines passed 1,100 rpm, the hull could shake violently, marring all accurate missile launching and making impossible to read any instrumentation, damage the radar antenna, while badly shaking the crew in the process.

Before the missile is launched, all crew members must enter the bridge, to escape the blast and heat wave. After the missile is launched, the boat returned to port for a revision and some repainting of the burnt launcher, bridge, and rear deck. Daily work at dock included: Daily inspection, weekly inspection, monthly maintenance, half-year maintenance, and annual maintenance. In the annual maintenance, the guided missile boat is pulled out of the water, placed on a shelf for scrapping. The paint, notably the underwater highly toxic paint is removed down to the stell coating, a hammer is used to knock out rust in some area, and a wire brush and sandpaper are used to polish it until the steel plate is smooth as a mirror. A primer is applied, then the anti-rust paint, and highly toxic boat primer. All four main engines must be lifted out too, sent to the repair shop for a complete inspection and overhaul.

Currently known numbers of boats in service were: 615, 1103, 1108, 2128, 8107, 9104, 9106. In the 1990s, Shidao Township in Rongcheng had a brigade with 4 boats per squadron. The Chinese Liberation Army Navy was equipped with 75 boats of which 50 were active, 25 in reserve. In the 1980s, the Type 024 III was developed, with two twin “Eagle Strike-8” anti-ship missile launchers, tested for design finalization.

Export & Service

The first missile FACs used by the PLAN were the Type 021 Huangfeng and Type 024 Houku classes. Both were derived from Soviet designs, respectively the Osa and Komar class. They filled the shore defence plans of the navy at the time,. taking advantage of their speed but only efficient in moderate weather. The later Type 037II Houjian class and Type 037IG Houxin class were much larger, assimilated to corvettes but only displacing about five hundred tons. The Military Balance for 1996-97 estimated the PLAN fielded “about 185” missile craft which included circa 100 large Type 021 Huangfeng-class, and less, circa 75 Type 024 Houku-class, plus nine Type 037IG Houxin-class, a ingle “Huang-class and all were retired within 15 years replaced by more–technologically advanced and capable vessels, including some stealth features.

The Chinese Komar was largely improved in its “Chinese pattern” but not battle-hardened as its model. The Komar was indeed put into actual combat: On October 21, 1967, the only destroyer of the Israeli Navy, “Eilat” was cruising in Lumara Bay, northern end of the Suez Canal when at 17:00, while 13 nautical miles north of Port Said she was spotted by Egyptian coastal radars. two “Kormar” boats were scrambled from Port Said and launched all their four missiles at the same time. They had 3 hits. “Eilat”, crippled, sank 10 minutes later. This was an historical first, showing than missile boat coild actually sink a large warship. Previously such occurrence happened in 1918 when two MAS boats torpedoed an Austro-Hungarian dreadnought.

During the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971, the Indian Navy’s own Komar boats attacked the Pakistani naval vessels and onshore oil depots near Karachi, launching 13 ship-to-ship missiles in total, of which 12 hit their targets. They sank the Pakistani destroyer “Khyber”, minesweeper “Muhamfez” and 3 patrol boats, crippling the destroyer “Badar” and No. 3 oil tanks set ablaze, with not a single loss.
This attracted attention especially in developing countries, as missile boats were relatively cheap and fit as a good replacement for the old MTBs (motor torpedo boats). Western powers until then did not pay much attention to the development of anti-ship missiles since artillery and torpedo still dominated minds. This made western navy’s revise combat thinking and tactics, by contesting their maritime supremacy. The Chinese Type 024 however was not tested in combat, although its potential is intact. More so, it was exported and the users might take it to action some day, until it is declare obsolete. So far this only concerns the Bangladesh Navy.

As of today, Chinese PLAN missile FAC fleet is wildly debated between sources. The Pentagon estimates is about 54 coastal-patrol (missile) craft in all. Only the 022s are su-detailed (22), not the other type. Since only the Type 022s, optimized for fast attack at high speeds for shorter periods are retained, it is likely the Houku are now all retired. The Military Balance of 2013 still lists four FACs types, for about 100 vessels including 66 Type 022s but says nothing of the Type 021 of 022 in the inventory. Allegedly ten were also exported to Iran (unconfirmed).

-Type 22 NATO designation: Houbei class, the first boat was launched with a steel hulled derivative as the Type 024 class for the Cuban Revolutionary Navy while 18 were provided to the Egyptian Navy (67 retired)
Bangladesh Navy:
-BNS Durdam for the Bangladesh Navy served from 1983 to 2017 (commissioned on 10 November 1983).
-BNS Duranta, commissioned on 6 April 1983, was in service until 2017.
-BNS Durvedya (commissioned 10 November1983) was also striken in 2017.
-BNS Durbar (commissioned 6 April 1983) was also retired that year.
-BNS Uttal was from the second batch, commissioned on 23 August 1992 but also retired the same year.

Type 024 Houku src

Chinese description:
The Type 024 guided missile speedboat, known as the “River Valley” class by NATO, is a fast-attack guided missile patrol ship built by the Wuhu Shipyard for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy in 1960, with a total of six? ships. It was originally derived from the Soviet Union “6623” (“Komar” class) with a wooden hull, later changed to a steel shell, showing better speed and sea resistance. The boat had a low freeboard, 23mm/60 twin-barreled guns installed in position A, a low central superstructure; stout main mast on top of central superstructure ; “Square knot” air/sea search radar antenna is located on the top of the mainmast; 2 large anti-ship missile launchers are located on the rear deck, with the front edge raised and slightly inclined to the outboard. Remark 1: The Chinese improved version of the Russian “Comau” class patrol ship. Note 2: The Chinese-made hydrofoil modified ship has a semi-submersible hydrofoil front structure, and the length of the ship is 6 feet longer.

Read More

Labayle-Couhat, Jean. Combat Fleets of the World (1984-1985 ed.). Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0870211362.
Conways’ all the world fighting ships 1947-1995
The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History By Benjamin Lai
Naval War College – Chna’s evolving surface fleet (Dutton, Martinson)
Baidu search query

Type 092 (NATO Xia class) SSBN (1981)

Type 092 (NATO Xia class) SSBN (1981)

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1981) – 1 Ballistic Nuclear Submarine
The first Chinese SSBN: It is well understood today that the most efficient deterrence carrier today is the SSBN (for ‘submarine’ ‘ballistic missile’ ‘nuclear powered’). Only five nations in 1987 could boast having that capability: USA, USSR, UK, France and that Year, the popular republic of China. That was a milestone in Chinese rise to power in Asia, before both India and North Korea joined the fray (Arihant and Sinpo classes), before, most probably Pakistan in a not distant future (Five Chinese-assisted SSGs for 2028). The Xia-class remained the first SSBN designed and built in Asia.

Xia class underway
Xia class underway – Src

However the Type 092 submarine came not as a complete surprise to the Western world: The type was known in construction at Bohai Shipyard, Huludao thanks to satellites in 1983-84 already. The conspicuous missile caps were clearly visible behind the fin. And boat 406 was laid down in 1978 (antoher source precised September 1970) to be completed in 1981 but operational in 1987, showing the very large span of construction and ambitious task expressed by Chairman Mao in the 1960s after the Sino-Soviet split. Without external assistance for a country barely out of its internal turmoil caused by the “little red book”, this was not, like the previous Type 093 SSNs (Han class), a small engineering feat.

And indeed the SSN class proved a great basis to start with, despite its limitations. Half of the work was done already, the rest revolving around the fitting of a new section containing ballistic tubes for underwater launch. In fact, only 15% of new fittings and systems were developed. Although riddled with problems and limitations, this “protototype” helped setting a safe board on which was designed the next ‘Jin’ class (Type 094) SSBNs from the 2000s. Almost 20 years of lessons helped the design of the modern Chinese SSBNs. The next step in the 2020s will be the Type 096 SSBNs (SUI class ?). NATO “Xia” class is a reference to the first known semi-legendary Imperial dynasty of China (founded by Yu the Great around c. 2070 BC, the Chinese Bronze age).

Development of the Type 092

Frot view of the Xia class as built Although Mao’s will dated back the 1950s (“We will have to build nuclear submarines even if it takes us 10,000 years“), it was on July 1958 that the party officially approved the development of nuclear propulsion and ballistic missiles. Several steps ensured the Type 092 was possible: First, the construction and setup of a nuclear submarine plant at Bohai, Huludao (190 km (120 mi) northeast of Beijing). Second, the construction of the first Chinese land-based nuclear reactor from 1965. Third, expertise gained in the making of the Type 91 by the team led by Huang Xuhua for the prototype “Long March” between 1970 and 1977.

Logically the next design started right alongside and a bit posterior to the type 091 development, design work started probably around 1975-76, by Peng Shilu and Huang Xuhua. They focused right away on an “extended” version of the Type 091 for accomodating an extra row of ballistic tubes.

Xia class in harbor


The basic teardrop design was the same as the Type 091 SSN, but with a 22 m section installed behind the fin (conning tower). This section accomodated twelve tubes, enclosed with a standard outwards opening single piece cupola hatches. Each silo housed a JL-1A SLBMs. Tne hull measured therefore 120 m, quite an increase compared to the Han class, whereas the width and draft were unchanged. Tonnage however jumped from an estimated 8,000 tons, 3,500 more than the original ship. The lead shielding of the nuclear core confinment zone also added to this tonnage.


It was the same as the Type 091, still a pressurized-water nuclear reactor, but it was larger, producing 58 to 90 MegaWatts, and fed two steam turbines whereas the Han class had a turbo-electric engine. Both turbines were mated, via a system of gears, to a single 1 shaft. There is another source () which claimed that these were turbo-electric units instead. This was sufficient to produce a lower standard top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph), far less than the 25 knots (46 km/h) of the Han class, and with the same level of noise. All the power was passed onto a single four-blade propeller.


The self-defence of the Type 092 was assured by six 533 mm torpedo tubes, in the same bow configuration as the type 091. The torpedoes were of the Yu-4B type, derived from the Russian SAET-50 passive acoustic homing torpedo. After the Sino-soviet-split it was further developed by Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an & Pinyang, instrumentation being provided by the East Wind Instrumentation Factory,Xi’an (only Yu-4A), and the model produced by the Machinery Factory, Houma, Shanxi. The submarine’s navigation systems (initial, stellar and satellite) was developed by Tianjin-based 707 Institute.

Type Yu-3 At first the Type 92 was given 12 torpedoes of this type. The Yu-3 was the standard acoustic homing torpedo designed to be fired from submarines (service in 1983). Its development went back from 1965 and it is probably the first indigenously developed torpedo in China. It was 7.8 meter long for 1.34 ton and carrying a 205 kg warhead. It was propelled by an electrical unit with a silver-zinc battery, capable of reaching 13 km at 35 kt, and could fired in the dephts, down to 400 metre. The ET32 is a 2009 modernized version. This model replaced the Yu-1 on board (first model fitted) or type 53-51, and unguided vector to 9.2 km at 39 kt or 3.7 km at 51 kt with a warhead 400 kg.

Stern view of the Xia class. Src: http://chinesemilitaryreview.blogspot.com

Type Yu-4B weights 1,775 kg (1,628 kg for the training version), for 7.75 m long x 0.53 m diameter.
The Warhead weighted 309 kg. t was propelled by an electrical, silver-zinc battery engine, with a 6 km (original) range at 30 knots (56 km/h).
The upgraded 4B version was able to reach 15 km (upgraded) at 40 knots (74 km/h).
Its Guidancesystem comprised an acoustic homing, active/passive.
As the tube chamber and whole prow section are similar, it is likely that they can carry also 36 mines in their tubes.
The complex underwater missile launch system was designed and developed by Wuhan-based 713 Institute.

Ballistic Tubes caps open – Xia class – Src: https://www.defencetalk.com

Juland JL-1A
This ballistic missile was produced by Factory 307 (Nanjing Dawn Group). Name: Jù Làng Yī; literally: ‘Huge Wave-1’. NATO CSS-N-3. It was the first Chinese SLMB, designed by Huang Weilu, and Chen Deren. Research and development went back to 1967. Design was refined in the early 1970s, for a production starting after the first succesful launch on 30 April 1982. This was made on an “expendable” platform, a PLAN’s modified Golf class SSB.
The JL-1 weighted 14,700 kilograms (32,400 lb), for a total height of 10.7 metres (35 ft) and diameter of 1.4 metres (4.6 ft). The nuclear warhead carried had a blast yield of 250-500Kt.
The rocker propellant was Solid fuel, and it was capable of a 1,770 km (JL-1), 2,500 km (JL-1A) range. Its Guidance system was Inertial. It allowed an accuracy of 600 m CEP.
The first launch on land was made in 1981, the first from a submarines (modified Gold class) in October 1982 and the first launch by the Xia-class on 15 September 1987.

JL1 JL2 comparison

Electronics and systems

> Multi-purpose combat data/command system for submarine control and weapons management
> SLBM integrated Fire-control system
> Surface search radar (NATO ‘Snoop Tray’), I-band type
> Type 603/604 bow-mounted, medium-frequency sonar for (active & passive search)
> Chinese version of the French DUUX-5 low frequency sonar, passive ranging, interception
> Type 921-A radar warning receiver/direction-finder

Very large pic of the Type 092 – SRC

Active life as a testbed 1987-2000s

After launch, the Type 092 Daqingyu (Chinese designation 09-II) spent six years in fittings, modifications and counter-fittings. The program of modernisation started in 1995 to end in 2001. She conducting intensive testing campaigns notably around fake and real JL-1 missile firings. She became as a result active only by 1987. Afterwards, the submarine had many upgrades in incremental steps.
-Type H/SQ2-262B sonar (No.613 Factory)
-French designed sonar
The Type 604 sonar suffered from limited missile range and high sound emissions.
-New black paint, possibly acoustic-absorbent coating
-JL-1A SLBM: Longer range ballistic missile

Xia class and crew in review – Src whitefleet.net

The submarine became “operational” in 1983 (but commissioned in 1987). It was reported facing long lasting teething problems. These were linked with the level of reliability and radiation leakage from the nuclear reactor. Also, the ill-fated Type 091 “Han” class on which she was based, she is well-known as the noisiest SSBN in service back then. It was very easy to detect and track, rendering the whole proposition of bringing a SSBN in firing position in a war scenario very hazardous indeed. This put the whole deterrence process in jeopardy.

Xia class underway

In service, her homeport was in Jianggezhuang, near Qingdao. According to NATO, the Type 092 never went into a standard strategic patrol outside Chinese regional waters. A single long range patrol was made in Chinese territorial waters, and the submarine apparently never sailed again. She has been spotted by satellites pierside and at some point disappeared, raising a rumor about her catching fire and sinking in 1985, so before even her official commission. In conclusion, the Type 092 was a test bed, a prototype allowing the test of new underwater technologies and paving the way for the development of the second generation Chinese SSBNs. The Type 094 in between reached construction and completion stage, whereas the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency official report of the Type 092 is “not operational.” The unique Xia class boat was made known worldwide on 23 April 2009 during the jubilee of the 60th anniversary of the PLA Navy.

Changzheng 6 (# 406) profile
Changzheng 6 (# 406) profile, as built.

Changzheng 6 as modernized in the 1990s. It is generally believed that the paint scheme is an anechoic materials assembly, making her less noisy overall.

Xia class Specs as commissioned (1987)

Dimensions 120 m (393 ft 8 in) x 10 m (32 ft 10 in) x 8 m (26 ft 3 in)
Displacement 6,500 to 8,000 long tons underwater (estimations)
Crew 100 to 140 (estimations)
Propulsion 1 shaft pressurized-water nuclear reactor, 58MW, 2 × steam turbines
Speed 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Range Unlimited (crew endurance and food supplies)
Armament 6 × 21-inch (533 mm) TTs bow, 12 JL-1A SLBMs.

Read More/Src
Connway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-95
Erickson, Andrew; Goldstein, Lyle (2007) “China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force: Insights from Chinese Writings” (PDF).

Type 091 (Han class) nuclear attack submarines (1970)

Type 091 (Han class) nuclear attack submarines (1970)

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1970-90) – 5 ships

Type 091 SSN
ChangZheng 5 (405) in 1993

The first Chinese SSNs: The type 091 class was nothing short of revolutionary when speaking of 1970s China. It really was a leap forward in design, technology and capability, the sign that the PLAN was now “part of the club”, which until then only comprised those with a permanent seat at the UN security council. Let’s going backwards: In 1958, July, Chairman Mao Zedong and the Central Military Commission gave approval to start the 091 submarine project. The first one, called “Long March I” (pennant number 401) was launched in 1970 and operational in 1974. Since then, five more of the same class (called Changzheng or “Long March” too) were built between 1977 and 1990. The long gap between them was linked to the capabilities of the Bohai Shipyard at Huludao but also allowed to make considerable improvements between two vessels.

It is safe to say the technological gap and capabilities between the fifth submarine, 405, and the first, now preserved at the Chinese Navy Museum, Qingdao, there was enough differences to justify a new class. As of today, China has three Type 091 in operation. Pakistan tried to procure one in 1989 and the rumor resurfaced again in 1993 and 2012. Today, the Type 093 form the ageing bulk of the Chinese SSN fleet, assumed by the Type 093 serie, and the last 091 are to be replaced by the next Type 095 in development. This goes together with a new generation of super-silent SSGs such as the Song class which caught the USN red-faced.

Type 091 Han class, no id

However the Type 091 submarine was often cited in the west, after the fall of the USSR with derision, as an example of engineering incompetence, seeing it as the world’s worst SSN. But this has to be considered in the context of the cutural revolution and technological backwardness of the time. The end result, having a working SSN in 1974, was alone actually impressive, and by itself, showed the resolve and level of commitment of the party and Chinese engineering to achieve their goals. Today’s PLAN, the world’s second largest naval force, is in debt to these men.

Development of the Han class

‘Han class’ is the NATO denomination, for convenience. It is quite significant, as the first nuclear powered Chinese submarine, and made NATO and Japan worried about the future. Peng Shilu was named as first chief designer of the 091 project. The greatest difficulty was to adapt nuclear power, developed without assistance of the USSR, to fit inside the submarine. More so, the hull was designed early on with the new “droplet-style” shown by European and USN designs, also better known as “teardrop”.

Type 091 during a review
Type 091 during a review – Photo from Chinamil.cn

In 1956, China was not even close to develop its own diesel boat. Nevertheless, nuclear propulsion was targeted as a national priority by Mao himself. This was a daunting challenge in itself, compounded by Moskow’s flat refusal to any nuclear technology transfer to Beijing, despite pressing requests to share them. Official position of the USSR that it was premature for the PLAN. Even before the souring of Sino-Soviet relations, Mao claimed “We will have to build nuclear submarines even if it takes us 10,000 years.
In July 1958, the party approved the development nuclear propulsion and ballistic missiles as well.

Decision was taken indeed in 1965 to build a land-based nuclear reactor for research and simulation, while the PLAN was submitted to a two-phase development, first a nuclear-powered attack submarine, and then a more complex nuclear-powered strategic ballistic submarine (the Type 092 Xia class, ready in 1987).

The onshore model reactor started trial operation in May 1970. It ran an open test and succeeded in all objectives. By July, the nuclear submarine project staff members held a meeting, changing the schedules and on July 26, a steam turbine generator started operations, a first for the country. By December 26, 1970 (Mao Zedong’s 77th birthday) saw the launch of the Long March I, a national event. The submarine design went on along the development of the reactor plant. The reactor was in place by early 1971 and started operations in April 1971 in the dock. On August 17, Zhou Enlai approved sea trials.

The first test was performed at sea on August 23, 1971, revealing numerous issues. Tests ended in 1974 as the submarine was officially scheduled to join the fleet. Nearly 200 tests has been carried out, paving the way to modify the newt boats. The reactor worked for thousands of hours, the submarine covering 6,000 nautical miles in order to complete an exhausting data coverage. The last tests were performed with Den Xiaoping on board

Impact of the Cultural revolution 1969-79

The Type 091 development went through one of the most rocky and violent period of Chinese History since 1949: Three years of natural disasters, ten years of cultural revolution. The basic goal was to develop a submarine at least at the same level as the Soviet Union’s own SSNs but there was still a considerable gap (thermal performance, quietness, reliability) with the west. In 1970 however, despite all odds, the Chinese were able to develop without assistance an integrated sound sonar, lightning detectors, sound trajectory, reconnaissance sonar and underwater sound detection systems despite the limited technological and manufacturing capacities of the local industry. As a result, the Type 091 in its first version in the 1970s was a few steps below Western equivalents in terms of performance in particular for water sound detection and noise levels reduction.

Han class - 404
Han class, 404

The armaments also suffered from the chaos and purges of the cultural revolution: The fish-3 torpedo for example, a new generation of acoustic deep-water-capable submarine-killer torpedo was developed in 1972. But the project dragged on until October 1983, with further tests in 1984. The fish-4 torpedo development started from December 1982. As a result, it would be only available for the next three Type 091 submarines, retrofitted later, as many other systems. But in 1974, Long March I was to enter service with the same standard torpedoes used by the other diesel submarine classes in service in the PLAN.

Ongoing tests until 1988

Deep-diving and underwater great speeds were tested, as well as great depth torpedo launchings were not completed until April-May 1988. Therefore despite being launched as early as 1970, it would take almost 15 years of R&D to see the first two SSNs fully operational. This lost decade was attributed to the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. Searchers, chief engineers and program directors indeed were detained and ‘reeducated’, hampering China’s nuclear submarines progress for years.

Delays also added pressure on completing al required sub-systems, causing in the end backward performances due the lack of refinment of these technologies, prssure from the party to press the Type 091 in service prematurely. This was very much a prestige program as well. After all, the first French Rubis class SSN was only launched in 1979, some nine years after the Chinese SSN, but without any political interference and having access to more advanced western technology.

Han class 402
Han class #402

The end result: More than a SSN program

The Type 091 in the end solved the need for SSNs as expressed by Chairman Mao, and significantly improved China’s defense industry research and development capabilities. Manufacturing and repair capabilities as well as modern navigation, targeting, torpedo tech, communications or underwater acoustics, radar and sonar tech were all considerably improved and also benefited the classis Ming class SSGs as well. This allowed despite all odds, China to advance alone to a new level, layind solid fundations the PLAN to develop a shift from conventional submarines, as well as ballistic missile technology, enabling the country the most efficient form of deterrence and paving the way for further SSNs classes.


The Huludao-based, brand new Bohai facility of the 1954 shipyard was chosen. The first Type 091, Long March I, was laid down in 1967 in a great ceremony. Now called Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co., Ltd., the yard has been responsible of all Chinese nuclear-powered submarines ever since. It is a subsidiary of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), located in southwestern Liaoning Province, facing the Bohai sea. Bohai Shipyard was a game changer for China’s nuclear powered submarine program and in late 2016, the yard completed a new 40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft) covered shipbuilding facility. This would help deliver submarine faster, by all seasons. It is speculated modular construction is also widespread and the space available is enough to built four SSBN at once.

Global-Security FAS satellite photo and recognition of the nuclear submarine facilities

Bohai shipyards Huludao
The Bohai shipyards are already responsible for the replacements of the type 091, Type 095, the five 091 and six 093 SSNs (Song class), plus the 092 (Xia class) and four 095 (Jin class) plus four more and the Type 98 SSBN planned for 2025.

The ‘Long March I’ was largely experimental and was merely a scientific research platform shaped as a SSN, by the National Defense Science and Technology Commission. At first there was no identified associated and the project was temporarily named as the “No. 1701″ nuclear submarine. However nomenclature had it attached to the submarine lineage as a”09 Project”. The “9” prefix meaning nuclear power while the “3” designated traditional diesel-powered submarines. By August 1, 1974, the submarine was at last officially named in a ceremony held on the bank of Bohai Bay. Navy Commander Xiao Jinguang, read the order of the Central Military Commission, naming officially the submarine “Long March number one” (ChangZheng-1) which was added to its navy flag.

As soon as it was spotted by Western intelligence, the new submarine had to be registered in NATO nomenclature. Like previous ones, it was named after a Chinese dynasty. “Han” by chosen by the US Department of Defense Intelligence Agency. The Han dynasty ruled from 206 B.C.-A.D. 220, at a time immortalized by the grand Chinese national epic, “the Romance of the Three Kingdoms”.

Design of the Type 091

The Type 091 is designed with a total of 7 compartments, also built modules.
-First: Torpedo room
-Second: Command module
-Third: Front auxiliary compartment, emergency power
-Fourth: Nuclear reactor, control and shielding
-Fifth: Control room and auxiliary engines.
-Sixth: Main engine compartment, propeller shaft
-Seventh compartment: Tail and stern electronics.

Fully loaded displacement is about 5,500 tons, armament consists of six 533mm bow torpedo tubes. The streamlined teardrop hull* (a first compared to usual Chinese diesel submarines) was 98 m (321 ft 6 in), by 10 m (32 ft 10 in) in diameter including the pressure hull, and a draft of 7.4 m (24 ft 3 in). It was propelled by a single Nuclear turbo-electric engine fed by a pressurized water reactor. This unit was able to provide the boat a top speed of 25 knots (46 km/h), for an unlimited range and the boat was served by a crew of 75.

*A nice story by China Times reported that Huang Xuhua claimed he developed the Type 091 hull from two toy submarines imported from the United States and Hong Kong. Of course it was very unlikely this was a substitute for years of hydrodynamic research

If the 401 was largely a testbed with the worst possible noise levels and a serie of teething problems, 402 was much improved but still deficient in many ways. At last, from 403 onwards, the hull was extended 8 meters aft of the conning tower. The last three boats were sometime reported to have been lengthened to accommodate six YJ-1 SSM tubes. But it was never confirmed. Also the upgraded design was to include the capability to launch YJ-8 SSMs via the 533mm torpedo tubes.

The hull is a double-shell structure, which had a large reserve buoyancy, with high damage resistance and anti-sismic property (for deep charge blasts). The adjustment ballast tanks with the buoyancy adjustment control, as well as the fuel oil tank and the intake/exhaust piping systems are all placed between the two shells. The pressure-resistant shell and the non-pressure-resistant shell are soaked with water, to ensure remaining water between the two flows out in time when the submarine floats up.

Interior view of the command station, Type 091 Long March I exposed at Qindao – credits imagedchina REX Shutterstock

Propulsion of the Type 091

The propulsion rested on a 90 MW pressurized water reactor with a primary loop system. It was filled with very hot and high-pressure pure water, classic core and a control rod. The loop comprised a circulation pump with a voltage regulator and steam generator. There was also a rear auxiliary engine with backup secondary circuit system, driving auxiliary equipment, composed of a steam turbine generator set with a condenser.
Although the structure is complex, it is not limited by the working depth, the launching noise is small, and no bubble is exposed to the position of the submarine. High-pressure gas operated by the pneumatic launch was not in closed loop, so to avoid any accident. Top speed of the Type095 was 12 knots on surface, 25 knots underwater, which was a far cry of the 33 knots of the November or 40+ knots of the Alfa. Working immersion depth was 300 m. Devoid of any measure for quiet internal assembly for the turbogenerators, the type 091 was estimated 2.68 times noiser than the Los Angeles-class SSNs.

Post 403 modifications
After largely experimental 401 and 402, the PLAN ordered a serie of improvements and upgrades to fix all the limitations and problems reported. To reduce the noise level, anechoic tiles were used to cover several devices and Long March 3-5 were considered 20% quieter, from 160-170 decibels originally to about 140-150 decibels. This was still way above western submarines, but the real target for the party were Soviet submarines. All in all, development was ongoing for 21 years.

1992-96 09-I Upgrade
The “09-I” upgrade project of the 1990s was aimed at using improved anechoic tiles while the hull’s shape was improved, longitudinal flow and the adoption of a row of square holes with a gap and a newly designed integrated sonar. The latter adopted advanced technologies such as Kalman filtering, adaptive noise cancellation and optimal linear prediction. The new system indeed provided a torpedo alarm, enabled a multi-target automatic tracking and also low-frequency line spectrum detection, a radical increase in environmental battle awareness.

Type 091 Han class and Harbin helicopter during a personal transit onboard – credits sinodefence.com


The Type 091 was armed with standard torpedoes and can also lay sea mines through the same tubes, some 36 mines (or Russian and foreign mines). To precise these six 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes were provided with 20 torpedoes. These tubes can also fire Russian torpedoes or even NATO models as they use a standard caliber. Fish-1 torpedoes were carried by 401, fish-3 torpedoes from 402. They were fired using a hydraulic balance launching system. In greater working depth, the launching noise is reduced whereas producing no bubbles. The high-pressure gas produced by the pneumatic launch is evacuated harmlessly.

Chinese Torpedoes:
-The Yu-1: (Litt. “fish”) A first-gen. steam-powered torpedo based on 1950s unguided Soviet ASuW Type 53 torpedo. It was in service from 1971 and also purchased by Romania. It was capable of a range of 3.5 km at 50 knots, up to 9 km at 39 knots and was guided by a straight running gyroscopic system upgraded to a passive acoustic homing in the late 1970s. Note: the Yu-2 which was developed earlier was a small, 450 mm, 70 knots propelled by a rocket and guided by passive acoustic homing.
-Yu-3 (1984): Proper submarine torpedo, developed from 1965, after the Sino-Soviet split, by the 705th Research Institute. It is guided with active/passive acoustic homing, with a range of 13 km, a top speed of 35 kt and was able to dive down to 400 metre for ASW warfare.
-Yu-4: Developed from the Russian SAET-50 ASuW passive acoustic homing torpedo, in service in 1987. Eelectric propulsion, range of 6 km at 30 knots (56 km/h) up to 15 km (upgraded) at 40 knots (74 km/h). It has been upgraded several times and is still in service.
-Yu-5: A tailored, specialized ASW torpedo. Wire-guided and a copy of the Russian TEST-71 torpedo. It entered service in 1989, but only on conventional diesel-electric submarines.
-Yu-6: This is the Chinese equivalent of a Mark 48 torpedo, reverse engineered in the 1980s. It was operational and introduced from 2006, propelled by Otto Fuel II, with a range of 45 kilometres (28 mi), able to speed up to 65 kt, and using a passive/active acoustic homing + wake homing + wire guidance systems. It is likely used by the 403-405 today, alongside older stocks of the Yu-3.

Submarine-launched Missiles
From No. 403 onwards, a missile launcher was installed, in a widened section after the command post and conning tower, under traps. The tubes are versatile, they can launch the C-801 or ‘Eagle-82’ anti-ship missile, but in both case, only on the surface, a serious drawback.
The YJ-8 (鹰击-8 – yingji-8 /NATO CSS-N-4 Sardine) is a Chinese surface-launched subsonic anti-ship cruise missile manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) Third Academy. This is a solid rocket with an operational range of 42 km, a flight altitude of 5-7 m, a top speed of Mach 0.9, an Inertial navigation/active radar homing terminal guidance. It is a heavily modified copy of the MM38 Exocet.

Han class boat


The 403 seems to have received French Thomson-Sintra DUUX-5 passive sonars, purchased before the post–Tiananmen Square arms embargo. This sonar can track up to three targets simultaneously. This sonar system is an intermediate frequency passive search and attack model, with a large array technology, digital scanning display for track multiple targets and coordinating attacks. It is fitted in the lower pressure-resistant casing of the torpedo launching port. It is accepting a transducer matrix sonar array using hundreds of sonar transducers.

The Type 091 is also fitted with an IF communication sonar and hydroacoustic interference equipment, for underwater communication, but also enemy identification (IFF) but also cooperative ranging. Its range is about 5-10 nautical miles, with a notification distance of 15 nautical miles, identification about 4 nautical miles. Supplementary arrays are fitted on both sides, whereas three white collision lines were painted (see the profiles) to precisely calibrate the installation position of the sonar array to improve its detection accuracy and tracking capabilities.

The electronic equipment also includes a multi-purpose combat data and command systems. Above the conning tower, alongside the snorkel, attack periscope and airborne periscopes and inertial navigation masts, there is an I-band search radar and a 921-A radar warning system. The communication antenna is using a short wave, with an ultrashort wave transceiver, and a very long wave receiver. Alongside there is also a satellite communication system. The hull is also equipped with an integrated air conditioning system. From the 403 serie, an anti-ship missile fire control system was installed.

Operational Service

As it was already said, all five boats entered service along a 21-year span, which is a record one for a submarine class.
The 401 was launched on 1970 and completed in 1974 to be preserved at the Chinese Navy Museum, Qingdao, without its reactor.
The 402 was launched in 1977 and was operational in 1980, to be retired in 2004 and decommissioned (and scrapped afterwards).
The next-gen, larger 403 was launched in 1983 and completed in 1984, so much faster, the 404 in 1987 and completed in 1988, and the 405 launched in 1990 and completed by 1991.
All five units were initially deployed with the North Sea Fleet, and their homeport was Lushan. The decision to base them all together was probably motivated by logistical reasons, as these early boats still requiring fixes and a relatively high level of maintainenance, was made easier at a single facility. The other reason might have been motivated by the proximity of the Soviet Union, considered a much more serious threat. Since then, they have been moved with the south China fleet.

Li Jie, a military expert based in Peking, claimed that if the Type 091s were ‘about 20 years behind US boats’, they still can cause shivers to USN task force commanders. Indeed during the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, two Type 091 submarines tailed the aircraft carriers USS Independence and USS Abraham Lincoln. They were of course heard and localized, but their presence nevertheless pushed the US carriers 200 miles away from the Island by their simple presence.

Han class submarines
Han class submarines – another view

Unbelievable Noise levels and other issues

In March 2007 Seapower Magazine published an article based on an US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) report from December 2006 under the Freedom of Information Act. According to this, the Han class were particularly noisy submarines based on 1960s technology, and despite several upgrade programs, it remains also limited in weaponry range. So it was in the 1980s a backwards design with poor offense and defence capabilities.
The lead boats (401 & 402) suffered acute radiation problems only solved after extensive refit.

Despite of this, these SSNs underwent many exercises and trials: On 27 October 1994, 100 km west of Kyushu, an unidentified Han-class shadowed the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) battle group. It was tracked by an S-3B ASW aircraft from Kitty Hawk all along the Korean coast as reported. The fight came too close for comfort as apparently several Chinese J-6 fighters scrambled to intercept the S-3 aircraft the next day. At the closest, the Han-class stayed at 30-km of the Kitty Hawk, much closer than in battlegroup normal procedures.

After the 1990s, two of the Han-class were transferred to the Chinese Navy’s South China Sea Fleet, strengthening the PLAN presence against in the South China Sea and near Taiwan. In the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis one was tracked by U.S. military satellites but apparently the presence scared the task force and force it to stay within 200 nautical miles of Taiwan.

-On 10 November 2004 another Han-class spent two hours submerged in Japanese waters, entering the Pacific Ocean in Japanese territorial waters, southwestern sector of Okinawa prefecture. It was believed to enter between Miyako and Ishigaki islands at 10 knots, cruising in shallow waters, 300 meters below the surface. It was easily heard by the JSDNF and prompted Japan’s naval forces to react. The submarine was chased with destroyers and a patrol plane as it went back to Chinese waters. It was also later shadowed by P-3C Orion aircraft. The whole affair spanned several days.

-On 16 November, China, caught red handed, officially expressed regrets as reported by Japan’s Foreign Ministry. China excuse was to say it was a training mission and went off course because of a “technical faliure”. It was also possibly linked to gas exploration in a remote island area claimed by both countries, the Senkaku/Diaoyu, although they were about 500 kilometers from Japan’s Okinawa Island.

Recent service

Since the late 1990s the first two boats were apparently mothballed as shown by satellite photos, no longer operational. According to some reports in 2000, only the last two of the Han-class SSNs were operational despite an accumulation of extended refits. Reports of their service until late 2003 was nevertheless confirmed by the PLAN.

In 2009, 403 was publicly unveiled at the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Navy. Her sisters 404 and 405 remained in service as of 2019 and the US Department of Defense’s Annual Report 2006-2007 reported a PLAN nuclear sub force of 5 vessels including one SSBN, one Type 093 (Shang class) leaving three Type 091 Han boats. A report from 29 October 2013 confirmed the end of the secured decontamination of 501 to be used as an exhibit at Qindao.

In 2014, one was spotted in a port visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 2015, one of these boats accompanied China’s fleet rotation dedicated to anti-piracy tour of service on the Horn of Africa, and eight thousand miles long trip, the longest ever observed for a Chinese nuclear submarine. This proved that despite the long span of modifications and early teething problems, the Type 091 class is now reliable. The last three are scheduled to be retired when the 095 entering service in the late 2020s.
In October 2017, China Daily reported the conversion of “Long March I” in Qingdao as a permanent exhibit. To perform this and avoid any problem with the public, the reactor and all nuclear material have been removed and the ship thoroughly decontaminated.

Type 091 Long March I
The Long March I preserved at Qindao, Credits sinodefence.com

Pakistan’s attempted purchase

In 1989, Pakistan made an abortive attempt to pucrhase a Type 091 boat for USD$63 million to the Chinese government. The decision was taken as a response to the Soviet K-43 announced leased to India in 1988. There has been since rumours of a renewed interest by Karachi to purchase one of these boats, perhaps the deactivated 502 before 2012. However otherwise for training the already obsolete platform could have only served for reverse engineering and officially training. The deal was not provoked by Pakistant but the single Han-class nuclear submarine was offered by China, examined but rejected by the PLAN due to noise control issues. It competed with a cheaper and quieter Ming class. This was an alternative to the procurements of new submarines which led to the infamous “Agosta affair”.

Indeed, despite intelligence services all agree on the reality that Pakistan has now nuclear weaponry, neither the latter or India has any SSN or SSBN in service and under international pressure and without further degradation of relations in the region, unlikely to evolve. Pakistan acquiring a SSN would for sure trigger a reaction of all neighbours. It must be recalled that India possessed a class of ballistic nuclear submarine, called Ahirant, since 2015, not Pakistan. On the other hand Japan possessed neither any SSN or SSBN.

Type 091 401 and 402
Author’s rendition of the 402 and 401 in their respective livery, 1978 and 1985. Based on profiles of Mike1979 Russia 1991 under wikimedia CC licence. Free to share.

Read More/Src


Modeller’s Corner: Hobby Boss Type 035 Ming
Ming class 3D on turbosquid.com

Han class model Kits:

Type 053H2G Jiangwei I class Frigates (1990)

Type 053H2G Jiangwei I class Frigates (1990)

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1990) – Anqing, Huainan, Huaibei, Tongling

Based on the classic NATO: Jianghu class (Type 053H), the Type 053H2G seems to be a derivative of the same lineage but in reality it’s its own class altogether and is separated in all publications and by all authors as the magnitude of changes in important.
The 053H at large is about a frigate format that was defined in the 1970s. In between China opened to the West and accessed to a large array of equipments, from propulsion to fire control management, radars, armaments, missiles and countermeasures.

Jiangwei and crew - PLAN Samning

Jiangwei class Frigates
Type 053H2 Frigate -Jianghu (Conways)

The Jiangwei class is well competent for a range of missions in offshore waters including surface strike, antisubmarine warfare, coastal patrol, fire support, and other general duties. Despite being described as modest in term of technology and capability, this 053H2G class is still regarded to be a highly successful Frigate design by the PLAN. Packing much firepower, this frigate’s cost is half a Type 052 destroyer (Luhu class), with a combat effectiveness almost 8/10 equivalent. This performance-price ratio made this model attractive on the export market and therefore motivated Sri Lanka to purchase one, although rated as a coast guard ship.

The previous 053H2:

The H2 and H2G seems related but they shared few characteristics: Both had a massive superstructure running along the hull.
Four Type 053H2G were built between 1988 and 1991, and some sources argue their denomination should be Type 055, because they carry the HQ-7 SAMs. However this alternative designation could be confusion with the actual Type 053H2G development serie.

Nice aerial of the Jianwei FFG (From Pinterest)

The 053H2 had an enlarged hull and was considered really modern for Chinese standards. They had airtight cabins, a modern central air conditioning system, NBC protection and the fully integrated Western-type integrated combat system ZKJ-3A.
The EH-5 sonar had integrated circuits and the ships carried eight SSN YJ-8/YJ-82 antiship missiles plus four modern twin Type 79A, rapid-fire automatic 100mm guns. They were quite a leap forward and served with East Sea Fleet in 1997 and from 2006 the only one in service was transferred to the North Chinese fleet and the last two were sold to Bangladesh.

Huainan FFG-540 profile
Huainan FFG-540 profile

Development of the 053H2G:

Type 053H2G JiangweiI
Huainan (540) Type 053H2G, NATO Jiangwei-I

In the 1980s, the PLAN ordered the Hudong Shipyard of Shanghai (Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard) to study a replacement for the Type 053K. This was an air defence frigate. The design bureau started on the basis of a Type 053H2 frigate, therefore designated Type 053H2G, the “G” standing for the anti-aircraft nature. The program was called Project 055.


The final design of the anti-ship Frigate displaced 2,250 tons standard for 2,393 tons fully loaded, a length of 112 m, beam of 12.4 m and draught of 4.3 m. They carried 168 men, including 30 officers.

Closeup of FFG 539 Anquing


The Chinese Frigates relied on a sturdy but modern, Western-influence CODAD system (Combined diesel and diesel) mated on two shaft. The units were 18E390VA diesel, rated for 14,000 hp or 10.4 MW, coupled to two German MTU diesel rated themselves for 8,840 hp (6.6 MW). This enabled a top speed of 28 knots, and a range of 5,000 miles at 15-16 knots (30 km/h).


This was pretty exhaustive for such a small package, and clearly shows the anti-ship specialization of these Frigates.

  • Six YJ-83 SSM in two triple cell box launchers either side
  • Six cells with HQ-61 Surface-to-air missile system
  • One PJ33A dual 100 mm gun (automatic)
  • Four Type 76A dual-37 mm AA guns
  • Two 6-tube Type 3200 ASW rocket launchers (36 rockets)
  • Two DC racks & launcher
  • Six torpedo launchers 324 mm ASW
  • Two decoy racks Type 946/PJ-46 15-barrel rocket launchers
  • Harbin Z-9C ASW/SAR helicopters

Type 79A 100 mm turret and HQ-7


These “exocet clones” (as testifies by their French TRI 60-2 turbojet or equivalent) were called locally 鹰击-83; or yingji-83 (‘eagle strike’). NATO reporting name CSS-N-8 Saccade. This is a subsonic anti-ship cruise missile, capable of a range of 180 km on its basic version, up to 200 on the K version. Able of very low flight at Mach 0.9, their Guidance system uses Inertial navigation and an active radar homing terminal guidance. The YJ-83 carries a 190 kg high-explosive fragmentation. The model is currently in use in seven navies around the world.


HQ-61 - credits ausairpower.net
Ship’s twin mount HQ-61 Source

The Hóng Qí-61 (‘Red Banner’) is the first generation Chinese PLAN SAM deployed in 1988. Able of Mach 3, it weights 310 kg for 3.99 meter long, a Wingspan of 1.166 meter and a diameter of 286 mm. It carried a high explosive warhead with an Impact/Proximity fuse.
It is propelled by a solid fuel rockets, with an Operational range of 10 km and a flight ceiling of 8 km.

Type 3200 ASW rocket launcher

These are six-tubed Type 3200 ASW (Antiship Submarine Warfare) rocket launchers placed on the bow deck. Each is supplied with 36 rockets in all. Each rocket has a 34kg warhead. Maximum range is 1,200m and oher systems includes two depth charge racks.

Yi Yang Frigates
Harbin Z-9 onboard Frigate Yi Yang. These were given a hangar with full management and supplies


The Processing systems comprised a Type 360 Radar (SR60) for Surface Search working on E/F band, a Type 517H-1 (NATO Knife Rest) 2D long-range air search and A-band, a Type 345 Radar (MR35) to guide Surface-to-air missiles and assist the 100 mm gun for fire-control, working on J-band. The Frigates also comprised a type 352 Radar (NATO Square Tie) for surface search, and SSM fire control working on I-band.
For the fire control of the light AA dual 37 mm guns, a Type 347G/EFR-1 (NATO Rice Lamp) working on I-band, was used. There were also two Racal RM-1290 Navigation radars working on I-band.

The Electronic warfare suite comprised a Data link HN-900 (Chinese equivalent to Link 11A/B), a Western style SNTI-240 SATCOM, a Combat Data System ZKJ-3C and RWD-8 (NATO Jug Pair) for interception, and a Type 981-3 EW Jammer. They carried also a SR-210 Radar warning receiver and Type 651A IFF (Aerial Identification, friend or foe). The next generation H3 is given a Thomson-CSF TAVITAC, later replicated as the Chinese ZKJ-4B/6) combat data system, capable of handling simultaneously several hundreds of targets and manage all weapons systems.

starboard side of PRC Huinan

Changes on the Type 053H2G

The Type 053H2G type frigate was a bit larger than the H2, and fitted with the HQ-61B surface-to-air missiles (SAM).
The HQ-61 SAM proved unsatisfactory and the class was superseded by the Type 053H3 which was an improved Type 053H2G equipped with HQ-7 SAMs.

The Type 053H2G in action:

Coast Guard Frigates
All three Frigates were reclassed as coast guard Frigates.

All four ships were built at Hudong yard, the first launched in June 1990 and completed in July 1992. She served like all other four in the East Sea Fleet. She was decommissioned in 2015, transferred to the Coast Guard as Patrol Ship #31239, extant since.
The second ship, Huainan was launched in December 1990 , completed in December 1992 also for the East Sea Fleet and Decommissioned in 2015 to be reaffected as Coast Guard Patrol Ship #31240.

The third vessel (541) or Huaibei was launched also in December 1992, completed in July 1993 for the East Sea Fleet and decommissioned also in 2015 to be transferred as Coast Guard Patrol Ship #31241. The fourth Frigate, 542 or Tongling was launched in December 1993 and completed in July 1994. She was also decommissioned in 2015, but was the only one transferred to the Sri Lanka Navy in September 2018, renamed P625. There has been no particular event associated with these ships, kept “under bell” for a future possible overhaul in case of a crisis. This service could be seen as a semi-active reserve.

Despite of their versatility, these Frigates has been replaced after about twenty years of service by more capable Type 053H3 (NATO Jiangwei-II) ships, and in total so far in the 1990s, ten Frigates of the Jiangwei II type has been delivered.

About Sri Lanka P25 Frigate

Sri Lanka P625
Sri Lanka P625 leaves China for Sri Lanka in June 2019. After 21 years or service with PLAN it is supposed to stay active as a patrol vessel.

This transfer came as a surprise and was wildly discussed in specialized press. It was officially a “gift” to the relatively small Sri Lanka Navy, a motley collection of ships of various origins and green water capabilities. Therefore in September 2018, the vessel underwent a refit and new pennant number P 625, indicating a patrol vessel use rather than regular frigate. So it does not balance up the potential of this local naval power. The ship was officially handed over in June 2019 and is supposed to be active in the end of the year.

Sources/Read More

Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1947-95
Toppan, Andrew. “World Navies Today: Chinese Surface Combatants
On sinodefence.com (archived)

Type 035 (Ming class) submarines (1973)

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1973) 23 ships

The Ming class: Last Chinese SSG

Type 035 or Ming-class returning from a mission
Type 035B, NATO Ming class, returning from a mission – src histamar.com.ar source The 035B was the last version, an hybridation with the next 039 Song class conventional attack submarines.

It could be summarized as the “Chinese Foxtrot”, a late, large mass-production serie of a conventional attack submarine. By “conventional” it is heard, non nuclear-powered. The linchpin of the program has been, just like Soviet contemporary SSGs, the reduction of noise level. The Ming class subs formed in the late cold war the bulk of Chinese submarine force. They were gradually retired up to 2019, but still nine Type 035G and 5 Type 035B seems to be active, so 14 total, more than half of the total delivered.

No doubt they will end in a reserve status soon, when replaced either by SNAs or updated, stealthy SSGs of the new generation. They were quite different than the “Romeo-class” Type 033 of which about 84 were delivered until 1984.

Type 033 submarines
The rear section of the Type 033. The most striking different is a more “bulky” top section and stern tail for the 035.

Development history of the Type 035

Due to the glaciation of relations with USSR, the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance was long forgotten and there was no choice but develop a new generation of indigenous submarine base on the Type 033 Romeo technology in the 1960s.

Chinese authorities soon charged 701 Institute, also known as the Wuhan Ship Development and Design Institute to start working on an improved version of the Romeo. The Type 035 was still in some ways, close to the 033, and the first two boats (Type 035 proper) were eventually delivered in 1974, after a record-time two years in development which ended in 1969 and triggered two orders.

Indeed in October 1969, both Wuchang Shipyard and Jiangnan Shipyard started construction of a prototype, which were called the Type 035. The new submarines emerged whereas the Type 033 was still evolving, but this was before China operated a rapprochement to the west, allowing to radically upgrade its ageing submarine designs.

Hull of the Type 035

Type 033
Type 035
Visual comparison of both models.

The hull was 76 m (249 ft) long, for 7.6 m (25 ft) wide, and 5.1 m (17 ft) in draft and 7.6 m (25 ft) in depth as compared to 76.6 m (251 ft 3 in) long for the 033, a beam of 6.7 m (22 ft) and a draught of 5.2 m (17 ft 1 in), for a displacement of 1,475 tons surfaced and 1,830 tons submerged. So the length seemed unchanged, but the hull was much beamier and thus, roomier, whereas the draft seemed slightly lower, but these figures are to take with caution.

External features also diverged considerably between the two: The prow’s fixed, passive sonar array was integrated into the nose bulge, some changes in the completely reworked rear tail and rudder part (which still kpt the horizontal tail, included propellers hubs), the underbelly cut (the hull was straight on the previous 033), allowing to save some weight, the vertical rudder, which did not existed on the previous class, still much influenced in design by the Type XXI U-Boats, the flat upper hull (no raised forward part as on the 033) which as also a cost-saving measure, simplifying production, and the kiosk shape, longer, with a lower bulge, and a different conning tower and array of periscopes and sensors.

Blueprint – cutaway of the class. Src unknown.

All in all, apart dimensions, the 035 (named “Ming” by NATO as soon as spotted) was a totally different beast, and truly the first Chinese indigenous submarine, made in total isolation with some ingenuity and original solutions. Nothing is known however of any noise-reduction measures other than reworking the hull shape. Like other domestic classes, it was made in gradual steps, with a first couple of boats, then a prototype for a more advanced serie, and then a large scale upgraded serie in the late 1980s.

Ming class submarine in winter
Ming class submarine in winter – src Navy81.cn

Propulsion of the Type 035

While the Chinese 033 innovated by making a noise reduction of 20 dB and introducing a more capable Chinese Type 105 sonar, and later a H/SQ2-262A model, there is little information about the noise level reduction on the Type 035.

The Romeos were given two diesels rated for 2.94 MW (4000 shp), coupled with two electric drives for the propellers shafts. This was able to propel the boats to 15.2 knots surfaced and 13 knots submerged. The Type 035 was improved in that area, with a couple of type E390ZC-1 diesel engines rated for 5,200 hp (3,900 kW) total, making them capable of 18 knots (33 km/h) submerged (From the Type 035A onwards). This was was quite an improvement, allowing to get out of the path of an USN Frigate of the pre-OH perry class. It should be added that the Ming had a reinforced hull and is claimed able to pass the 300 m (980 ft) depth threshold. The first Type 035 of 1974 however had a single shaft, whereas the following series had two.

Range of the Type 033 was 14,484km (9,000 miles) at 9 knots, but it is unknown for the Ming class.
A third boat was completed with two shafts shortly after the first two (ES5D), pennant number 342, which proved unsatisfactory during trials, so much so that the 701 institute was asked to perform a major redesign. The problem was solved and the boat gained an increase in submerged top speed, to 18.5 knots (33.9 km/h; 21.1 mph).

Armament of the Type 035

The Romeos were given eight 533mm (21in) torpedo tubes, six in the bow and two in the stern, with fourteen anti ship or anti submarine torpedoes or 28 mines. With the 033G, the Chinese introduced new acoustic homing torpedoes served by analog computers and with the single G1 ws modified to carry six YJ-1 (CSS-N-4). On the 035 it was unchanged, at least for the first series. The basic 035 or ES5C, pennant numbers 232 and 233, had these original torpedo tubes. From the ES5C onwards, an updated fire control system to launch acoustic homing torpedoes was installed. This was to be the export version, but none was ever exported. Instead, the system was likely passed onto the design of the Type 035A and to upgraded the Type 035. See the notes below.

Production & Variants

Modifications were completed in 1980 and the 342 entered service after two years of furter trials and modifications in 1982. Since it was a clear evolution, the boat was then re-designated Type 035A and three more approved. The 035A also motivated Chinese authorities to order to stop the production of the 033 and swap to the new type. However this has to last until 1987 and then three more 035A, 352, 353 and 354, were ordered.

The first serie was given:
-Type 921-A Golf Ball ESM RWR Radar Warning Receiver (222.2 km range)
-Pike Jaw hull passive Attack Sonar (Range 3.7 km)
-Trout Cheek [Derived from the Soviet MG-10M Feniks-M shared by the November, Romeo and Foxtrot) Active/Passive hull sonar, range 18.5 km.
-Snoop Plate Surface Search Short-Range radar (46.3 km), also soviet-derived (Flag system)
-Acoustic Intercept active warning sonar [Based on the MG-23 Svet-M] (27.8 km)
-They were also equipped with a decoy system, of the 1970s generation, of the noisemaker/Bubble Screen Expendable type (1.9 km)
-They were armed with 8 tubes, 14 Yu-1 Straight Runner torpedoes (1973) range 5.6 km.

A group of three Ming-class ongoing – src. submarine matters

The ES5D was a variant of the above design also tailored for export. It had the capability to launch anti-ship missiles when submerged and was applied to the #342 first (lead boat of the 035A) then ported on the next three and used as an upgraded for the first two 035. More options will be added, often through an export proposal which was ported on older versions as an upgrade:

Type 035G submarine (1989)

The Type 035G inaugurated a new wave of modifications and development started in 1985, likely to integrate now available western electronics. The first boat was released just when the cold war was about to end, launched in 1989 and entering service in December 1990. #356, the lead boat was state certified after numerous trials in 1993, and production of the 357, 358, 359, 360, 361, 362, 363, 305, 306, 307 and 308 was sanctioned. All these had extensive anti-submarine (ASW) capabilities for the first time.
The lead ship 356 inaugurated the Yu-3 torpedo, a domestic acoustic homing torpedo capable of firing an anti-ship missile.

Ming class Type 035 at sea

About the Chinese Yu-3 homing torpedo

The Yu-3 development started in 1969 at the Acoustic Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Science and the 705th Institute, and the program was led by Mr. Hou Chaohuan. It was capable of hitting a target at 750 m depth when tested at the 750 Testing Range. Oceanic tests began in 1972, and the design was finalized in 1975, but it would take some more years and about 40 companies to solve other problems that erupted during trials. In the end, the Yu-3 development was finalized by the Yunnan 6th Machinery Bureau, but the project dragged on until December 1977 and went a long way until 1983. Production started in March 1984 and the Han class were the first to receive it, firing some in 1988, and the modified Ming class was the second one to adopt it.

The YU-3 was a 7.8 meter, 21-in torpedo, weighting 1.34 ton with a warhead of 205 kg, and guided with an active/passive acoustic homing device, and propelled by and electrical, silver-zinc battery. Operational range was 13 km at 35 knots, and practical depth lower than 400 metre. A slightly less capable ET32 torpedo was also developed for export.

In addition, these boats were fitted with a French sonar DUUX-5 which was soon reverse-engineered and replaced by a Chinese-built version were used on later units. The Type 035G was further developed into the ES5E for export, but no order came. The latter had the ability to launch wire-guided torpedoes and this came as an upgrade for the G type and earlier versions and it did not applied to a particular submarine, but the whole G serie. It was further enhanced as the 035ET, also for export, this time with a cheaper JP-64 active sonar/Velox passive sonar from the Toti-class submarine. This version also failed to attract customers.

Type 035B Ming (2000)

The 035B was the last serie, with a first batch of four completed 2000-2003 (309, 310, 311, 312), and an additional order with the 313, which was the last of the serie. It was an hybrid between the new 039 Song-class and the Ming, integrating its new Conning tower, while a large portion of the hull was redesigned to be made more hydrodynamic, with a new coating, and a internal arrangement also copied over the Type 039 submarine. This last Ming type was was given land attack cruise missiles, launched from the same 21-in torpedo tubes. The 035B was armed with the Yu-4A 1985 torpedo and ET31, which has a 5.6 km range.

Sensors/Equipments of the Type 035B
-Type 921-A Golf Ball – ESM RWR, Radar Warning Receiver (Range: 222.2 km)
-SQG-2B [DUUX 5] Hull Sonar, Passive-Only, from the Han-class, Ranging Flank Array Search & Track (Range: 74.1 km)
-SQC-1 [DSUV 2H + DUUA 2D] – (DSUV 22 from Han class) Active/Passive Hull Sonar (Range: 74.1 km)
-Snoop Tray 2 [MRK-50E Kaskad] Export Radar (ES5F) Surface Search and Short-Range 37 km.
-DUUX 5 Fenelon [TSM 2255] SQB-2 passive Hull Sonar, Ranging Flank Array Search & Track (Range 74.1 km)
-Generic Acoustic Intercept SQB-2, Active Sonar Warning system, range 66.7 km.
-Generic Acoustic Decoy type Noisemaker/Bubble Screen, Expendable with 1.9 km range.

The ES5F was an export version of the 035B with integrated sonar system with separated active and passive ranging but also flank sonar into one single unit.

Some footage (CCTV) of the Ming-class and crew.

Type 035 – src thempirestwilight.fandom.com

Bangladeshi Mings

Type 035G delivered to Bangladesh
Type 035G delivered to Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government was already a customer of Chinese Armoured Fighting vehicles. Two submarines ordered while in service of the Type 035G in 2013. Bangladesh defence ministry’s inter-services public relations directorate (ISPRD) confirmed with IHS Jane’s on 15 November 2016.

The contract, worth $203 million (BTD16 billion) included a refit in China to be tailored to the Bangladeshi needs and they were to be delivered at Dalian on 14 November 2016 to Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmed. The were the former #356 and 357. These became the very first Bangladesh submarines, named BNS Nabajatra (S 161) and BNS Joyjatra (S 162) respectively, commissioned on 12 March 2017. The press went in detail on these, carrying Yu-4 anti-surface heavyweight torpedo and up to 32 naval mines.

Their electronic suite comprised a H/SQ2-262C active sonar (relativel similar to Pike Jaw MG-100, derived from the French French DUUX-5 passive sonar) and ES5F integrated sonar system. MRK-50 Topol (Snoop Tray) surface search radar is also used, as well as a Magnavox satellite navigation system and Type 921A for electronics warfare. But in overall capability they are quite inferior to the 035B.

BNS Nabajatra
Bangadesh Ming class BNS Nabajatra (S 161) and Joyjatra (S 162) in the background – Press release (unknown).

The Type 035 Ming in service

All boats were active until the end of the cold war, and 15 were registered active on the Northern fleet. Today, it is perhaps 20 with the latest 2000s 035B acquisitions. They are completed by the four Han class SSNs. There is of course little to no information available about their deployments, and possible incidents. But we do have information about the only know which was lost at sea: #361. The initial serie of 1973 has been retired (the two Type 035s) in the 1990s, and followed later by the four Type 035A. Nowadays only the Type 035G and hybrid 035B stays active, probably for the latter, until the 2030s, unless they are replaced faster by the upcoming generation of super-stealthy Chinese SSGs. Indeed the basic design will be nearly 60 years old in 2020 !

The case of 361 “great wall”

The #361 was one of the twelve 035G Ming class (ES5E) in service, relatively recent in the Chinese arsenal. She was was part of the 12th Brigade, North Sea Fleet of the PLAN, based at Lüshunkou (Liaoning Province). According to CNN, intensive training and exercises in the east were taking place to enforce a large scale “sea denial” towards the U.S. Pacific fleet. According to Xinhua, the loss of the submarine and entire crew off the Changshan Islands in the Yellow Sea was due to carbon poisoning when the diesel engine failed to enter in a close loop properly and used up all the oxygen when submerged on April 16, 2003.

The reason why the crew was not able to surface in emergency is still unclear. Among the victims were 13 trainee cadets from the Chinese naval academy. The submarine was localized, salvaged and towed to port at the time for the enquiry when it happened. It has been deriving for ten days and was discovered by a Chinese fishing trawler.

closuep Ming
A closeup of a Ming class at anchor, with female crew – src fyjs.cn (googleusercontent) on defence.pk

Type 035 at sea – src globalsecurity.org

Read More/Src

Modeller’s Corner: Hobby Boss Type 035 Ming
Ming class 3D on turbosquid.com

Type 053H Jianghu class Frigates (1974)

Type 053H Jianghu class Frigates (1974)

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1974-96) – 18 ships

The Type 053 was the staple of Chinese PLAN late cold war frigates. The extensive denomination type covers 8 different ship types which spanned almost 20 years, from the Type 053K Jiangdong class which were basically heavily modified soviet Riga class frigates. They were designed as air-defense frigates, armed with two twin HQ-61 SAM launchers. Both were retired from active service in the early 1990s and 531 Yingtan is now preserved in a museum in Qingdao. In all and comprising all 053 types, 59 ships were completed a remarkable achievement for China in the 1970-80s.

The Type 053H was studied in a context of total isolationism and defiance towards USSR as the west, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution launched by the aging country leader, Mao Zedong in an atmosphere of unrest and paranoia. The purge also cleansed part of the army and navy, and the local development of warships dragged down so far that on completion in 1974, the Type 053H were hopelessly obsolete. However in time, the serie was constantly upgraded and also exported, while denominations changed, spawning for NATO a flurry of “variants” all under the same umbrella of NATO “Jianghu-class”.

Huainan, FFG 513
Huainan, FFG 513.

Development of the Type 053H

In the 1970s, a wave a replacement was to strike the first generation Riga-type vessels of the PLAN, and a replacement program was launched at the 701 naval institute. It was called 053H (for “Hai”, anti-ship) and was to comprise Surface to surface SY-1 anti-ship missiles, two twin-missile box launchers, two single 100 mm guns, six twin 37mm guns, depth charges and short-range ASW rockets. The No. 701 Institute guided missile frigate anti-air/anti-ship concept latest until 1969, involved a diesel/oil engine. The concrete detailed engineering development phase was carried about by the Hutong shipyard, in close coordination with the navy staff. Construction started there, and was almost completed in the mid-70s. However in between, the primary mission was changed to pure anti-ship duties, as required by the PLAN at that stage. The whole weapon systems had to be changed with anti-ship warfare in mind, which delayed completion for years. The initially planned twin 100mm cannons were replaced by a more classic single-barreled 100mm cannon and by 1976, they were redesignated Type I anti-ship guided missile frigates.

Design of the “Jianghu” class

During the cold war (latter era), the Jianghu represented the most numerous class of warships in service with the PLAN. The emphasis was placed on SSM rather than SAM capabilities, but they carried still high-powered AA guns and search radar, while also operating depth charges. However the general design was still based on the Soviet 1950s Riga class, now in the late 1970s, totally obsolete. The stern was squared, the hull narrow and with a relatively low freeboard, going upwards two fold in a gradual curve (flush deck) to the bow. The design was still very “destroyer-like” with superstructure and funnels alternating with massive missile launchers, in the torpedo tubes banks fashion.

The armament was changed as said above due to PLAN’s policy swap to more aggressive naval operations and after the serie was built the 1980s saw a range of improvements. The final Type 53 Jianghu I had two dual 100 mm gun mounts and six twin 37 mm guns, plus missiles, four anti-ship SY-1s (Shangyou No.1) in two twin-box launchers. The two single 100mm were dual-purpose hand-loaded models with a fire control limited to a simple stereoscopic rangefinder, a ww2 solution which limited their use to surface targets calm weather an daylight operation. The six twin short-range 37 mm AA derived from the Soviet model were also locally controlled. The Chinese SJD-3 sonar was a development of early Soviet Tamir-11 (NATO Stag Hoof) mounted in a telescoping arm, and folded in the hull when not used. This system allowed it to be lowered several meter below the hull, increased detection range and reducing the parasite noises from the ship. ASW armament comprised short-range rockets like the Soviet RBU system, and depth charges. Damage control arrangements were minimal was discovered later by the Thai.

Improvements in the design started in 1983. The missiles were replaced by eight Yingji No.9 guided missiles and a simple combat-intelligence-command system was added as well as a new electronic warfare suite. This became the Type II guided missile frigate (NATO reported name Jianghu II). These ships have a hangar and helicopter; Then came the Jianghu III with twin dueal-purpose 100-mm gun turrets models. Their armament new comprised eight C-801/YJ-1 SSM while the Type 53HT-H Jianghu IV (Siping) was an ASW helicopter frigate in the same fashion Japanese ASW destroyers. The Type 53HT (Jianghu V) revealed the least expensive of the serie but also the least powerful variant, possibly intended for exports.

Type 053H1 NATO Jianghu-II

These Improved Type 053H had newer electronics, modernized turbines and new equipments. The sonar is now the SJD-5, a development of the Tamir-11 (MG-11) (NATO Stag Hoof), with transistors instead of vacuum tubes (as for the Soviet MG-11), armed with six SY-2 in two triple launchers, in place of the older systems. The #555 Zhaotong received more advanced electronics systems and was used as a prototyê, notably top test PL-9C SAMs which replaced its obsolete 37mm AA gun mounts.

Type 053H2 NATO Jianghu-III

These had an enlarged hull with strong European influence as the superstructure joined the freeboard in most of the front section. In fact their design was Considered as really modern for Chinese standards. These ships had airtight cabins and a modern central air conditioning system (indispensible for the south china sea), NBC protection and a brand-new Western-type integrated combat system derived from the British CTC-1629 and called locally ZKJ-3A. The sonar was upgraded to the EH-5 model derived from the SJD-5, with integrated circuits. The main armament was two four launcher for the SSN YJ-8/ YJ-82 plus four modern twin Type 79A 100mm guns, automated. These three frigates were quite a leap forward and were still in service with the East Sea Fleet in 1997. One has been since 2006 transferred to the North Chinese fleet and the two remaining sold to bangladesh.

Type 053H1Q NATO Jianghu-IV

Jianghu IV

The rear (aft) weapons systems were entirely replaced by an helicopter deck and hangar, operating a for Harbin Z-9 helicopter (a copy of the airbus Helicopters Dolphin). The SSN armament was therefore reduced to a single SY-1 SSM twin-box launcher. t the front was installed a compact French-type automatic 100 mm DP gun. #544 Siping would remain a test bed of an helicopter frigate with the North Sea Fleet. She was renamed Lushun in July 2010 and now is part of the Naval Academy.

Type 053H1G NATO Jianghu-V

Jianghu V

This was the “cheap” version of the 053, based on the 053H1 possibly for export. Six were completed at Huangpu Shipyard (Guangzhou) to provide ships by the South Sea Fleet rapidly. Improvements from the Type 053H2 were also present such as the air-tight cabins, air conditioning, NBC and integrated combat system plus EH-5A sonar. The latter was developed from the SJD-5/EH-5/Echo Type 5 but highly digitized. The six obsolescent SY-1A were upgraded to eight YJ-83 SSM in two four-box launchers, and this is their current configuration in active service. They would probably remain frontline until the 2030s.

Type 053H2G/H3 (NATO Jiangwei class)

Type 053H2G JiangweiI
Huainan (540) Type 053H2G, NATO Jiangwei-I

Construction of the Type 053H

Type 053H (Hudong)

The first serie class by NATO Jianghu-I was immatriculated 516, named Jiujiang (九江). She was launched on 28 June 1975 and completed by 31 December 1975. Do note the completion time in barely five month. The next 515, 517, 511, 513, 512 and 514 (pennant numbers not linked to the launching chronology) were launched up to 11 February 1978, and commissioned in 25 January 1979, almost a year, a sign that teething problems of the first ships led to take more time polishing these details and the first one was dictated by a party schedule. These were East Sea Fleet. The second serie, identical and from the same yard, were the 518, 510 and 509 for the South see fleet (completion of the last in 30 September 1979) and two more in 1980. In between two ships (519 and 520) were for the North sea fleet.

Type 053H1 (Hudong)

The first, Taizhou (台州), launched on 13 December 1981 and completed 30 June 1982, again a tight schedule. She was given the pennant number 533 and was joined by 534, for the East sea fleet, 543 and 545 for the North sea fleet, and 553-557 for the south sea fleet.

The last one, 557 was Jishou (吉首) was launched 8 November 1987 and commissioned on 15 June 1988, basically one year before the event that saw the end of USSR and the end of the cold war and before the Tiananmen Square event.

To complicate things, these frigates were at first named Type 6601 or Type 065 frigates, right during the turmoil of the cultural revolution. At first they were named after geographical areas but this was soon forbidden to avoid a “bourgeois” sense of belonging to their populations, and the third batch had to be unnamed and referred to by their hull number.

Then the naming returned and all ships are known under the generally accepted Type 053H serie, with hull numbers, pennant, and names.

Type 053H1Q-H2 (Hudong & Hangpu)

This was when the Type 053H1Q Siping (544) was completed in December 1985. She was renamed in 2010 Siping and serve in the North sea fleet.

The three 053H2 ships (535-537) Huangshi, Wuhu and Zhoushan were for the East sea fleet. The last one was commissioned on 17 November 1990 and renamed Cangzhou in 2006 while she was sent to the North sea fleet.

The next six Frigates of the 053H1G type were for the South and East sea fleets, and post-cold war vessels completed in 1993-1995 with the pennants 558-563. The great difference with previous batches is that they were built at Huangpu yard located in Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China.

The yard was more specialized in submarine hunters. Meanwhile at Hudong were launched the four ships of the Type 53H2G (NATO Jiangwei I) type which were so different hey will treated in a separate post.

Exports Type 053H

BNS Osman, Jianghu-II or Type 053H1 class

The Chinese soon exported the Type 053H and made variants for foreign navies, starting with one 053H1 for the Bangladesh Navy (transferred) and two other Type 053Hs purchased by the Egyptian Navy. They were refitted with Echo Type 5 sonars developed from Jianghu-III’s EH-5, which used the LSIC -large scale integration- system. They had issues with their stabilizers and air conditioning put a drain on their generators. Their 100 mm guns were still of the hand-loaded model without fire-control radar while the anti-ship missiles were still Chinese 1st gen. P-15 Termit copies. Yet the Burmese ships were acquired in 2013.

ANDAMAN SEA (Sept. 27, 2009) The Royal Thai Navy frigate HTMS Bangpakong (456), left, is underway with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101). The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Scott/Released)


Three ships (556 of the H1 and 535-536 of the H2 type) were transferred to Bangladesh, the first in 1989 and the two others in 2013, renamed BNS Osman, Abu Bakr and Ali Haider.


Type 053H1 Myanmar
Two 053H1 ships from Hudong were sold to the Myanmar Navy. The first named F21 UMS Mahar Bandoola was PLAN’s 554 Anshun, decommissioned in March 2012 and sold to the Burmese, like The F23 UMS Mahar Thiha Thura (ex. 557 Jishou).

Type 053HE (Egyptian Navy)

F951 Najim Al Zafir - Jiangju 53HE
They were additional constructions, the 951 Najim al-Zafir and 956 Al-Nasser.

Type 053HT & HT(H) (Thai Navy)

HTMS Saliburi FF-458
HTMS Saliburi FF-458

Four extra ships based on the PLAN’s H2 design, called 455 HTMS Chao Phraya, 456 HTMS Bangpakong, 457 HTMS Kraburi and 458 HTMS Saiburi. The last two were of the improved 053HT(H)) type, built in 1992 solely for export with an Helicopter deck (hence the ‘H’), and YJ-81 (C-801) missile launchers.

The Royal Thai Navy received four brand new, purpose-built Type 053Ts in the early-1990s at a ฿2 billion price tag each. They had a rear helicopter deck and hangar, SJD-5A sonar (based on the Echo Type 5 with VLSIC tech). However when acquired, the Thai had to proceed to considerable improvements: All the interior wirings were refurbished and protected, while fire-suppression system and water-tight locks had to be fixed and completed.
They represent half of the Frigate force, the two other being Types 025T partly built in Thailand, and two of the very large South-Korean design Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyer HTMS Prasae and HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej.

These early exports drew a lot of criticism and obliged the Chinese shipbuilding industry to improved matters, and the Thai enlarged Type 053s formed the basis for the F25T Naresuan class frigates. These F25T frigate were designed by Zhu Yingfu and from the start fitted with Western engines and armament, with the assistance of German technical advisers and French for the Sonars of the SO-7H type derived from the French DUBA25.

HTMS Kraburi FFS 457 2010 shot by USN

HD Artist's Impression of the Type 053H1 Frigate -Jianghu I
HD Artist’s Impression of the Type 053H1 Frigate -Jianghu I (Based on Conway’s profile)

Type 065H2 Frigate -Jianghu III
Type 065H2 Frigate -Jianghu III (Conways)

Type 065H2 Frigate -Jianghu IV
Type 065H2 Frigate -Jianghu IV (Conways)

The Type 053 in service:

Fate of the ships

As indicated above, the ships in service with various PLAN regional fleets were in part transferred, some sold to foreign navies (the first being the 556 Xiangtan in 1989) others to other fleets, and sometimes renamed. The bulk of the first batch was decommissioned in 2012-2013 and one, 520 Kaifeng, ran aground on reef in 1985, was partially recovered, decommissioned in 1992 and scapped afterwards. Of the 14 ships of the Jianghu-I class, only six are still active:
*516 Jiujiang was converted into a fire support ship with MRLs in 2002. Se has been named Changsha until 1981.
*515 became a museum ship in 2013
*517 Nanping became a Chinese Naval Academy training ship in 2012
*513 Huai’an (Huaiyin until 2006) is now a training ship for the University of Naval Engineering
*509 and 510 were transferred to the PLAN’s Coast Guard as Patrol Ship #1002 and #1003
*519 Changzhi is now an active experiment platform
-Of the nine Jianghu II ships, six remained active. Three were sold and transferred renamed BNS Osman (F18), F21 UMS Mahar Bandoola and UMS Mahar Thiha Thura. Three ships were transferred to the South Sea Fleet.
-Of the three Jianghu-III, only 537 Cangzhou (Zhoushan up to 2006) is active, but was transferred to the North Sea Fleet. The two others were decommissioned in April 2013 to be transferred to the Bangladesh as BNS Abu Bakar (F15) and Ali Haider (F17).
-The unique Jianghu IV, 544 Siping had been renamed Lushun on 28 July 2010 and serves now in the Chinese Naval Academy.
-The six Jianghu-V type, completed in the mid-1990s, are frontline active in the East and South sea fleets.

The early variants of this obsolete frigate are nowadays primarily used for coastal patrols. They are retired from the frontline due to their crude control radars and obsolete missiles. The Jianghu-class are also devoid of any kind of centralized command information operation system of modern Frigates. So they are now considered as second-line defense ships at best.
While sources agree for 23 Jianghu I built, it is harder to asses for later Jianghu units due to numerous designations, names and pennant numbers changes from 1979.

With time reports emerged of severe equipment problems. Faulty stabilizers, hungry air-conditioning systems, poor performances of the obsolete 100-mm guns and of the SSMs derived from the primitive Soviet ‘Styx’. Later on, more issues were revealed by exports, especially with the Thai Navy. Thailand purchased four ships on the stocks plus order two improved Jianghu IV. The Chinese-made F25T class made by the State Shipbuilding Corp in Shanghai (Taksin and Naresuan) releaved numerous defects while it was even worse for the four earlier Jianghu-class renamed Bang Pakong, Chao Phraya, Saiburi and Kraburi, purchased at “friendship prices” of 2,000 million baht each (The international average for this kind of ship was 8,000 million baht).
The quality of workmanship was severely criticized, and considerable rework done to meet standards, for battle damage and fire-suppression or hull breaching.

The Incident of Hasa Hasa (2012)

One of these Jianghu-V ship, 560 Dongguan, ran aground on a shoal off the coast of the Philippines on 11 July 2012 at Half Moon Shoal (Hasa Hasa), fortunately without casualties. These are the Spratly Islands, 60 miles west of Rizal, Palawan and a hotly contested area, now well known by the international press. In July she has been refloated and towed back to the nearest port for repairs. This happened just when territorial disputes in the South China Sea over Spratly Islands reached a peak, and the 2012 ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh took place at the same time.

In early 1999 indeed, China deployed tow Jianghu-class frigates to the Mischief Reef area (South China Sea) spotted also around Fiery Cross and Johnson atolls. The Phillipine government formally protested although their presence was allowed by international law in high seas, even in exclusive economic zone, and already protestation reupted for the same problem in November 1998. The Spratlys group of islands is still claimed in whole or in part by Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines and China, and are the equivalent of the 1913 “Balkans powdercake” in Europe.

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Type 033 class submarines (1963)

Type 033, the Chinese “Romeo”

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1963-84) – 2+84 boats

By far, the most common Submarine type in service with the PLAN during the early 1980s were the Type 033, the Chinese “Romeo”. Indeed, they all had been built in China, with Soviet assistance and over Soviet blueprints at first, as part of the 1950 Sino-Soviet Friendship and Mutual Assistance Treaty, but with Chinese-designed components and many improvements from 1962 to 1984. That was a massive undertaking for China at the time, which led to the next domestic Ming class.

Genesis – About the “Romeo”

After the “Whiskey” (about 250 delivered), also produced in China as the Type 03, the Soviet type Project 633 (NATO id R or “Romeo”) was another success-story type in service with the Soviet Navy and many others, 133 being delivered until the 1980s. The last ones were only made for export, used by North Korea, Bulgaria, Syria, Egypt and Algeria. This was a technological quantum leap compared to the previous Project 613 and 611 (NATO Whiskey and Zulu) although still a conventional diesel-electric type, but short-lived. In December 1961 indeed, the Soviet submarine force swapped to the nuclear type (NATO “N” or November).

Therefore only 20 of the initial order of 56 was completed at that date. Production, however, went on by China and through exports. Most are retired today, although these submarines still had some value as local patrol submarines. Overall, these were retained in service after the Soviet Union collapsed for training in various fleets, and perhaps two are still today in use for static harbor use. Over time, the Romeo was exported at a fair price : Bulgaria operated a single boat (Slava) until the 2000s, the last of the time in active service worldwide. Syria received three boats in 1961, and Algeria two, now retired.

Production in China

About the time blueprints were received, production allegedly started in 1962 whereas documentation arrived in 1963 meaning the first to be built were kits and “regular” production started from 1963. These indeed were six boats known as the Type 6633. However the Chinese started the design of their own model with some improvements, which is properly called the “Type 033”.

Indeed, the first to be completed was in 1967. Just after the Sino-Soviet split and therefore the PLAN has to be self-reliant in the design and construction of this model, which featured improvements over the regular “Romeo” (see later). At the end of their career, these submarines were upgraded, while production was relaunched for export: The ES5A and later upgraded ES5B for Egypt (1984), and the domestic 033G/G1 (NATO Wuhan Class) major upgrade for PLAN’s boats and its missile variant (SSG).

Production of the Type 033 took place at:

  • Wuchang Shipyard (Wuhan)
  • Guangzhou Shipyard (Canton)
  • Jiangnan Shipyard (Shanghai)
  • Bohai Shipyard (Huludao)

North Korea also uses the type, assembled at Mayang-do Naval Shipyard assembly site from knock-down-kits and another batch with spare parts (photo).

The Chinese “Romeo” design and variants

The Type 6633:

This was the early version, obtained from the assembly of knock-down kits provided by USSR. Over 6 kits planned to be assembled only 2 were so completed however. Indeed this program cut short when diplomatic situation degraded with the USSR. Parts were no longer delivered after the Sino-Soviet split. The 3rd unit lay incomplete at Wuhan Naval Yard. The first pair was completed but extra parts had to be to be designed and crafted locally. Therefore the Type 6633 was already a Chinese boat, diverging from the original “Romeo” as it notably used domestic Chinese batteries, which claimed superior performances compared to the Soviet model. The two boats were introduced in the PLAN possibly in 1964. Their fate is unknown.

The Type 033:

This was the main Chinese type. It was done in 1967, after trying to reverse-engineering and replicate the third Type 6633, devoided of most of its parts. It seems the first completed boat was delivered in 1967. The project Type 033 according to the year on the Chinese traditional calendar. Like the third 6633 which was mostly made of replicated parts according to the blueprints, and with Chinese batteries, the type was externally very close to the Soviet model.

Crew of a Type 033 submarine

However, since most boats were deployed initially on the south China sea it appeared their refrigeration and air conditioning systems, designed for cold and dry climates was totally inappropriate and has to be replaced. The South China sea’s boats all undergone a refit of these systems. This process started in September 1969 at Huangpu Shipyard in Guangzhou. 13 of these “tropicalized” versions were delivered to the China’s PLA in the 1970s.

The Type 033G/G1:

The 033G was a development of the ES5A in the 1980s. It included a range of improvements like:

  • Acoustic homing torpedoes launching system
  • Modern analog computers for the firing system

Project Type 033G1 SSG

Type 033G1 or NATO Wuhan class (1976):

This denomination Wuhan or Wuhan A according to the Wuhan 701 naval institute is not widely recognized but is found in some literature and reports back when the type was discovered. A single Type 033G was completely rebuilt as an SSG (diesel-electric, missile attack sub) to carry and fire six YJ-1 (NATO id CSS-N-4) anti-ship missiles. The missile could only be fired on the surface and the process lasted for 7 minutes. The missiles have a radar homing to 40 km (22nm) at mach 0.9. They are of the sea-skimming type, carrying a 165kg warhead. They are guided by a Type 358G fire-control radar.

The torpedoes’s own passive homing/range is 15 km at 40 knots, carrying a 400 kg warhead. Also, noise reduction was greatly improved, lowering the sub signature by 12 dB, so 108 dB total compared to the original Soviet boats’ acoustic signature of 160 dB. However the missile capability is not capable of over-the-horizon targeting.  This trial boat was not followed by any conversion and ended service either in the late 1990s or even 2001 (Hazegray).

The Type ES5:

In the late 1970s after China operated a rapprochement to the west, and more modern electronic and guidance systems were obtained. This was an upgrade, applied to the oldest of the boats in order. It mainly consisted in fitting better navsatcom and optical systems, improved domestic systems:

  • QZHA―10 (Type 779) attack periscope
  • QDYA―10 (Type 778) general purpose periscope
  • H/SQG-2 ranging sonar
  • Type 063 communication/countermeasure systems.
  • Type 801 sonar (2x more transducer elements)
  • H/SQZ-D reconnaissance sonar (+15° range)
  • Noise reduction measures

The ES5A was exported to Egypt, four boats of this upgraded type in 1980 and four more of the evolved ES5B in 1984. The latter was development from the Type 033G, and intended for export as well as an upgrade package for all Romeo submarine in service. This included:

  • Wire guided torpedo launching system
  • Anti-ship missiles (AShM) launching system
  • Noise reduction of 20 dB (120 vs 160 dB)

Egyptian ES5A Romeo submarine

A montage of photos of the Egyptian ES5/ES5A type. The Ming class was partly elaborated from these upgrades.

Bulgarian Slava - Romeo type

Bulgarian Type R “Slava”, probably the last in service anywhere, now retired.

Read More/Src

  • http://www.russianwarrior.com/STMMain.htm?1947vehicle_Whiskeyhist.htm
  • https://militaryedge.org/armaments/r-class/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo-class_submarine
  • https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/romeo.htm
  • https://en.zamanalwsl.net/news/article/34567/
  • https://archive.is/20130628082803/http://m.huangpujs.cn/wap.php?action=article&id=2594
  • https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/wuhan.htm
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20121105151620/http://www.sinodefence.com/navy/sub/type033romeo.asp
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20090328132224/http://www.sinodefence.com/navy/sub/type035ming.asp

Type 03 class submarines (1956)

Type 03, the Chinese “Whiskey”

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1956-63) – 21(+5) boats

The famous NATO codename was given to the most important serie of submarines post WW2. They were an integral part of the USSR defence policy and represented a mass of 215 modern submarines integrating many of the innovations bring by the fabled German Type XXI. The “Whiskey” (Soviet designation Projekt 613) class was among those proposed to China in an effort to bolster the PLAN, before the Sino-Soviet split of 1960 cut short many further transfers and collaboration works. As part of the initial deal, five of these submarines were to be shipped in China, while parts and equipments, plus advisors were sent to assemble 21 more. These local copies were called “Type 03”. Now they are all long retired.

Whiskey III class

USSR submarine transfer history

Before going in the “Whiskey” type, the Chinese PLAN saw a lot of former Soviet vintage units declared surplus and shipped to China circa 1955. These were:
-One M IV coastal submarine (stricken 1963)
-One MII submarine (stricken 1963)
-Four (M200-203) MV coastal submarine (stricken 1963)
-Four Schch class submarine (stricken 1963)
-Four Series IX Stalinetz (S400-403) (stricken 1963).
The coastal submarines were mostly used for training, and gradually until 1963, the others followed. These were all WW2 generation submarines, designed in the early 1930s to late 1930s (like the series IX), ranging from small coastal units to large oceanic ones. That way, the Chinese PLAN could build operating experience on the whole spectrum of submarine warfare. However it was evident that in the mid-1950s the submarine fleet could not compete against American or Japanese submarines operating in the region. They were conceived as a defensive force, delaying enemy efforts before the Soviet-allied Pacific fleet could intervene.

Unidentified Whiskey class

About the “Whiskey” class transfer

About the same time in 1954-58, the Soviet government decided to supply its Chinese ally with the most modern submarine in inventory, the Type Proyekt 613 conventional attack submarines. Commonly named and known as “Whiskey” by NATO. Units were transferred entire, and according to Conway’s register, numbered 119-123, 127, 129, 131, 201-207, 221, 241, 243, 244 and 265-267. This total made 21 submarines. They were allegedly in service in 1956, up to 1964, the latter dates corresponding to the boats properly built in China. However there are conflicting sources about exactly known many submarines were transferred versus how many were actually built. If indeed five more submarines were shipped in parts according to Conway’s, while wikipedia (no citing a precise source) argues that was the reverse, five transferred entire plus 21 built in China.

Cutaway of a Whiskey I in 1949
Cutaway of a Whiskey I in 1949

According to globalsecurity.org, assembly began in 1953 in Jiangnan and Wuchang shipyards. The first fully built and operational was started in April 1955 (Jiangnan), launched in March 1956 and completed in October 1957. According to Robert Whiston, also 21 boats were assembled in China. According to “The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History”, the Type 6603 later abbreviated as “Type 03” was part of this 6.4 agreement to give Chinese shipbuilders gradual experience in this type of boat, which went with Soviet expertise, Engineers and naval architects.
In any case, the idea was a transition towards a submarine fully built in China, that was realized later with the Chinese Romeo class. These submarines were assembled in Kiang Chou, Canton, Kiangnan and Shanghai shipyards but most sources argue that was Jiangnan (Shanghai) which started first, followed by Wuchang shipyard. Things gets complicated when counting transfers as five were also transferred to North Korea, but in the 1960s.

Whiskey Type in 1980
Whiskey Type in 1980

Design of the PLAN’s Type 6603 submarine

Since the exercise was not to improve on an existing model, but only to gain shipbuilding experience in this type of modern boat, the Type 6603 was a virtual copy of the “Whiskey” and there is no mention of something that stands out in their design to make them properly Chinese. All equipment was indeed supplied from USSR and Soviet naval engineers were there to ensure assembly was made according to original plans. In facts, some authors argue that the 21 Chinese boats were even integrated into the absolute total of Soviet “Whiskey” class submarines -denominated SSG.

The Type 613 was elaborated from 1947 by order of the TTz, and based on the hull of the Type XXI. Development was hold until licence could be obtained for a workable Walter system, however since it was needed fast, Soviet engineers proceeded the same way the Germans did on the Type XXI, by multiplying the electric power almost by three while the rest of the diesel propuslion was rather classic. Unlike the original, they did not had two remotely-operated twin AA guns on both ends of the kiosk, preferring the old school deck gun and a twin AA 25 mm mount in the kiosk’s “bathtub”. However the Chinese Type 03 omitted these apparently. As specified, the type was able to dive below 200 meters, and had a greater autonomy. However since the transfer occured in 1954, the serie was probably a I, II, III or IV and not the serie V which was a real step forward, despite the fact the licenced Type 04 were built in 1959-63.

The Type 03 are supposed to develop 6800 hp. which was enough for a top speed of 18,25 knots surfaced and 13 knots submerged. These were 1050-1350 tonnes in displacement, measuring 76 x 6.3 x 4.55 m. Armament comprised six 533 mm torpedo tubes, four in the bow ad two in the stern with 12 spare torpedoes while deck armament could have been two 57 mm, and two 25 mm AA on paper.

Whiskey I type

Follow-up: The Type 6613 submarines

During a second stage of operations, in late 1950s, the Chines attempted to design and built their own submarine model, bt apparently without success. Instead, in a third-stage, the 2.4 agreement was signed with USSR in February, 4, 1959, in order to deliver six submarines, and locally built the greatly improved Projekt 6631 NATO “Romeo” class.

Fate of the Type 03 submarines

They were operational from 1961. These submarines could have been deployed during the Sino-Vietnamese war of 1979, but no records are known. However No.418 was sunk 1.12.1959 after a collision with net minelayer Yun Chie.

Whiskey class in the Pacific circa 1964
Whiskey class in the Pacific circa 1964

Type 03 class specifications (1960)

Displacement: 1050-1350 tons Surface/submerged
Dimensions: 76 x 6.3 x 4.55 m
Propulsion: 2 diesel, 4 electrical generators, 6800 hp. 18,25/13 knots, Max. Dive 220 m max
Armament: 6 TLT 533 mm 4 bow 2 stern (12 torpedoes), 2 guns 57 mm, 2 of 25 mm AA.
Electronics: Feniks, Tamir, Sonars Nakat and Flag Radar sensors

Author’s HD Profile of the Chinese Type 03


On rwhiston.wordpress.com
Project 613 on russianships.info
The Dragon’s Teeth – The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History
People’s Liberation Army Navy: Combat System Technology, 1949-2010 James Bussert, Bruce Elleman
Jane’s fighting ships 1955-60
The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History – Benjamin Lai
Conways all the world fighting ships 1947-1995

Type 053K Jiangdong class frigates

Type 053K Jiangdong class frigates

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1973) 2 ships

531 Yingtan - Jiangdong at sea -src cmano-db.com
From fas.org- 531 Yingtan at sea via cmano-db.com

The Type 053 frigates (NATO Jianghu, Jiangwei and Jiangdong) formed the backbone of Chinese PLAN frigate force from 1977, until recently. They were all derived from an attempt to make a better design than 1950s Riga-class Type 065 Chengdu and its attempted modified copy, the Type 065 jiangnan. The same No. 701 Institute (Wuhan) designed the Type 053K (Kong meaning “air-defence”) as a derivative of the Type 065 as requested by the Admiralty in the mid-1960s. They were specifically tailored to escort the new Type 051 Luda class destroyers. In fact, this became the largest class of warships of that tonnage built in China in the 1970-80s, many of which were also exported to four countries, which was also new. From this grand total, 13 are still active and 11 retired from the PLAN, replaced since by far more capable units like the 2007 054A (Jiangkai-class). The complete class was almost 59 ships strong with eight sub-classes. Here we will focus of the first class, the AA frigate Type 053K (Jiangdong). “Jiangdong” was spelt also “Kiang Tung” in pinyin.

Design of the Type 053

The first draft were made by 701 Institute in 1965-67. On paper, the PLAN’s requirements included three screws, a combined gas-turbine combined with diesel engine producing a speed of 38 knots and four shafts. Unfortunately in reality these optimistic figures were never approached. After struggling with what equipments and skills were available, the team went back to a more reasonable twin diesel engines only, turning two screws at 30 knots top speed (on trials). Design speed was 26 knots; From there, the serie diverged between the sea-air-warfare (053K) and the next 053H (Hai for anti-ship) which will diverge a lot between variants. But both ship versions shared most components and their hull. The latter was derived from the previous classes, but machines arrangements meant it was flush deck again, but still with a relatively high prow. Displacement for the Type 053 class as a whole ranged between 1,700 to 2,000 tons, lenght 103 m, beam 10.8 to 11.3 m, 3.05 to 3.19 m draft. The intial hull was a derivative of the Riga-class shape, and seemed a good stopgap solution to provide the Chinese PLAN a much-needed AA escort at the time.

Details of the Type 053K 531 Yingtan at Qindao, notice in particular the HQ-61 SAM

The Type 053K (NATO Jiangdong class) frigates in detail

This was the fast AA version, but proved a failure, due to a very late entry into service with the planned armament (from being laid down in 1970 to the mid-1980s) and were retired after barely eight or nine year of active service in full commission, with only two built. Long development time for their final armament and possibly severe vibrations or performances issues condemned the serie. The first 053K was 531 Yingtan, laid down in 1971 and 1972, launched 1973 and 1974 but only commissioned in 1977 and as seen above, left without armament for years. 532 Zhongdong was the second ship. Considering they only received full commisssion with their planned armament in the mid-1980s and they were withdrawn from service in 1992, this was a fairly short active life. So we can consider them almost as testbed frigates. The first was scrapped in 1994 while the other was turned into a museum ship in Qingdao. According to Conways, 532 Zhongdong was even discarded while still incomplete in 1982. There are very rare photos of the 531 Yingtan, and now closeups are possible at Qindao naval base, where the ship is preserved apparently since 1995, under maintenance by PLAN staffs. Due to their very sketchy service life and of course official discretion about this class, the Type 053K should be considered an intermediary test class. The hull and most details were reused in the successful next Type 53H class anyway, so it was an important step forward in chinese Frigate design.

Stern view of the Type 053K 531 Yingtan at Qindao, showing the 1986-patterned automated 100mm DP twin mount

The Type 053Ks received HQ-61 surface-to-air missiles launched from two twin-armed launchers on fore and aft superstructure, and reload hatches below. But these systems took time to be fully operational and entered service from 1986. They also had two new 100 mm automated Chinese-designed turrets (22 km range) which were delayed to about the same period. This was completed by two Chinese-built quadruple 37 mm AAA semi-turrets derived from a Soviet design. For ASW warfare, the ships were also equipped with two five-tubes rocket launchers Type 62 (1.2 km range) on the forward deck and two rear deep charge racks. Electronics equipments are pretty much unknown in detail, although photos shows soviet-derived 1970s possibly upgraded electronic navigation air and surface detection radars plus SAM guidance system.

HQ61 credits fas.org via wikipedia
HQ-61 in action – credits fas.org via wikipedia

The HQ-61 SAMs were the Chinese first generation general-purpose SAMs, introduced in 1986 and developed by Shanghai Aerospace Bureau. They weighted 310 kg, for 3.99 m in lenght and a diameter of 28,6 cm, wingspan of 116 cm, armed with a HE warhead with Impact/Proximity fuses, propelled by a rocket motor with solid fuel and capable of a 10 km radius with a 8 km ceiling at Mach 3. The HQ-61 was guided by SARH/ARH systems.

Profile Jiangdong class Type 053K
Jiangdong class Type 053K frigates, author’s HD illustration

Type 053K (NATO Jiangdong class 1986 specs)

Dimensions Length 103 x 10,8 x 3,1 m
Displacement 1674 tonnes, 1924 tonnes FL
Crew 200
Propulsion 2 shafts, two diesels engines, 14,000 hp
Speed 26 knots as designed
Range Unknown
Armament 2×2 100 mm DP, 2×2 HQ-61B SAM, 2×4 37mm AAA, 2×5 ASW RL, DC rack
Electronics Unknown

Full photo (the BG is cropped) showing the Yingtan and a Luda-class destroyer preserved as museum ships at Qindao.

Type 053H (NATO Jianghu class) frigates

Specs for the H class: The beam was 10.8 meter (35.4 foot), Draft 3.19 meter (10.5 foot), Length 103 meter (339 foot),
Jianghu II
Jianghu-II, Conways
Jianghu III
Jianghu-III, Conways
Jianghu IV
Jianghu-IV, Conways

Src./Read More

The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History By Benjamin Lai
Type_053_frigate (wiki)
Type 053H2G ASuW frigate
On deagel.com – Type-053H
About the HQ61 SAM on globalsecurity.org
web.archive.org atrinaflot.narod.ru
Closupt photos of 2012 modified type 053 frigate zhaotong (555)
Conways’ all the world fighting ships 1947-1995

Type 065 Jiangnan class frigates

Type 065 Jiangnan class frigates

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1965) – Haikou, Dongchuan, Nanchong, Shimonoseki

Based on the “Riga”

The previous Chengdu class frigates (type 065) were ex-Soviet ships of the 1950s, “Riga” ASW warfare class shipped and assembled in China, as well as some blueprints, and with a lot of local ingenuity. They were launched in 1956-57 and served with the South China sea until the 1990s. By the early 1970s, these ships fo the Type 6601 class went through a mid-life upgrade: Their torpedo tubes banks were replaced by a twin launcher for SY-1 anti-ship missiles. They were redesignated as Type 01, but retained their Chengdu class general denomination. It is generally admitted they has been retired in 1993. Next, the Chinese tried to replicate locally this type of Frigate but the result was disappointing.

Jiangnan type
Rare photo of the Jiangnan type at sea – src: mail.dir.bg (pdf)

Sino-Soviet split and consequences

Following the Sino-Soviet split and the withdrawal of Soviet aid, the Wuhan No. 701 Institute started reverse-engineering the Type 01 in 1962 to replicate the ship with Chinese means. The design was called Type 065, still based on the Riga hull but with a long forecastle intended to house the larger diesels. These were of civilian grade, procuring a slower speed but a much greater range. This was also the recoignition the Chinese were unable at that time to replicate the Soviet compact high-pressure steam turbines. Sources contradict themselves about what frigate was launched and where. The first was apparently 529 Haikou, at Huangpu, commissioned in August 1966.

Jiangnan design

The yard was renamed Jiangnan Shipbuilding Factory (Chinese: 江南造船廠; pinyin: Jiāngnán Zàochuán Chǎng) in 1953 and in 1966 became a subsidiary of the state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation. This was the yard responsible for the production of all five ships, either at Shanghai or Canton. For NATO the name Jiangnan/Kiangnan stuck “Nan” is south in Chinese.
The Type 065 design was still strongly based on the Type 6601/01. In December 1962, 701st Institute in Wuhan started with the original blueprints, but it appareared were soon unable ro find the right way of replicating some intricate parts of the Soviet turbine, especially due to a lack of suitable materials. Forced to swap to an existing powerplant akready produced in China, the institute team was forced to redesign the hull to house it. The flush deck could not be kept anymore and a long forecastle was designed. This was not the only difference. The rest of the hull, prow and stern, witdth and lenght were identical to the Riga type, but artillery, mainly because of consideration of weight, was rearranged: Two if the 100 mm turrets were relocated to the rear, only one was kept on the forward deck. Just behind, was located a 37mm AA mount. Two others were located on the wings of the new superstructure. A local version of the Soviet MBU-1800 ASW rocket launchers were also installed on the deck. The bridge was modified, lower, as well as the main rangefinder.

Model kit photo of the type

The main mast was a lighter tripod, supporting more modern and smaller electronics. These comprised a NATO designated “Ball Gun” radar, Wok Won, Neptune navigation system, and assumed bow sonar. The single funnel was about the same as the previous Frigate, in the center of the ship. in place of the mid-deck torpedo tubes there was the aft superstructure, carrying another 37 mm AA mount and just behind were located the two 100 mm turrets. Turret “B” was only on a slight superfiring position as due to the shape of the hull and forecastle, the gap in height was only 1.50m here. Aft were located four ASW mortars. Modified German-based civilian diesel engines were able to provide power, but with a significant speed loss. As a result, these ships were no longer capable to catch the fastest submarines in service, especially Soviet SNAs of the November class. The locally designed 100mm semi-automated dual purpose main guns resembled the originals but performances are not known with precision. There ere also two rails for ASW grenades in the stern, and the ship was equipped for minelaying.

Model kit of Nanchong
Model kit of Nanchong

The Jiangnan in service

After final blueprints were approved, construction started in August 1964. The first ship entered service on Aug 1, 1966. They were crititicized for their weak armament, lacking the space to accomodate either missiles launchers or torpedo tubves. Only their AA and ASW defences seemed improved (although obsolete by the 1970s), at the cost of their anti-ship capabilities, limited to their main guns. Their electroncs suite was also obsolete in the 1970s. One of these ships engaged the South Vietnamese navy in 1974, showing their lack of suitable armament, but it was not deiced to upgrade them. These four ships were retired from active duty in the late 1980s. They were retained for training, one ship being later converted as a museum, and another became a public relations ship. So as old as they are they are still listed (Conways states they are “extant” in 1995) in the PLAN’s naval records.

Jiangnan class
Impression of the Jiangnan class Frigate (Conways)


Dimensions 91 m (299 ft) x 10.2 m (33 ft) x Draugh 3.16 m (10.4 ft)
Displacement 1350 long tons, 1,600 t FL
Crew c180
Propulsion 2 shafts 12 cyl? diesels 20,000 hp ?
Speed 25? knots
Armament 2 MBT 1800 ASW RL, 4 DCT, 2 DC rails, 3x 100 mm DP, 8 x 37 mm AA (4×2), 4 x 14.5 mm (2×2)
Sensors “Ball gun”, “Wok Won” radars, “Neptune” navigation system, 1 sonar

Read More

Conways’ all the world fighting ships 1947-1995
The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History By Benjamin Lai
Type 053 frigates versions
on atrinaflot.com
color rendition on photobucket