Type 033 class submarines (1963)

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

Type 033, the Chinese "Romeo"

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: 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: 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: 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: 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.

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WW2

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Shakespeare class (1917)
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Z/ca class (1943)
Ch/Co/Cr class (1944)
Battle class (1945)
Weapon class (1945)

WW2 British submarines
L9 class (1918)
HMS X1 (1923)
Oberon class (1926)
Parthian class (1929)
Rainbow class (1930)
Thames class (1932)
Swordfish class (1932)
HMS Porpoise (1932)
Grampus class (1935)
Shark class (1934)
Triton class (1937)
Undine class (1937)
U class (1940)
S class (1941)
T class (1941)
X-Craft midget (1942)
A class (1944)

WW2 British Amphibious Ships and Landing Crafts
LSI(L) class
LSI(M/S) class
LSI(H) class
LSS class
LSG class
LSC class
Boxer class LST

LST(2) class
LST(3) class
LSH(L) class
LSF classes (all)
LCI(S) class
LCS(L2) class
LCT(I) class
LCT(2) class
LCT(R) class
LCT(3) class
LCT(4) class
LCT(8) class
LCT(4) class
LCG(L)(4) class
LCG(M)(1) class

British ww2 Landing Crafts
LCA
LCP
LCM

WW2 British MTB/gunboats.
WW2 British MTBs
MTB-1 class (1936)
MTB-24 class (1939)
MTB-41 class (1940)
MTB-424 class (1944)
MTB-601 class (1942)
MA/SB class (1938)
MTB-412 class (1942)
MGB 6 class (1939)
MGB-47 class (1940)
MGB 321 (1941)
MGB 501 class (1942)
MGB 511 class (1944)
MGB 601 class (1942)
MGB 2001 class (1943)

WW2 British Gunboats

Denny class (1941)
Fairmile A (1940)
Fairmile B (1940)
HDML class (1940)

WW2 British Sloops
Bridgewater class (2090)
Hastings class (1930)
Shoreham class (1930)
Grimsby class (1934)
Bittern class (1937)
Egret class (1938)
Black Swan class (1939)

WW2 British Frigates
River class (1943)
Loch class (1944)
Bay class (1944)

WW2 British Corvettes
Kingfisher class (1935)
Shearwater class (1939)
Flower class (1940)
Mod. Flower class (1942)
Castle class (1943)

WW2 British Misc.
WW2 British Monitors
Roberts class monitors (1941)
Halcyon class minesweepers (1933)
Bangor class minesweepers (1940)
Bathurst class minesweepers (1940)
Algerine class minesweepers (1941)
Motor Minesweepers (1937)
ww2 British ASW trawlers
Basset class trawlers (1935)
Tree class trawlers (1939)
HMS Albatross seaplane carrier
WW2 British river gunboats

HMS Guardian netlayer
HMS Protector netlayer
HMS Plover coastal mines.
Medway class sub depot ships
HMS Resource fleet repair
HMS Woolwhich DD depot ship
HMS Tyne DD depot ship
Maidstone class sub depot ships
HmS Adamant sub depot ship

Athene class aircraft transport
British ww2 AMCs
British ww2 OBVs
British ww2 ABVs
British ww2 Convoy Escorts
British ww2 APVs
British ww2 SSVs
British ww2 SGAVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Mines.
British ww2 CAAAVs
British ww2 Paddle Mines.
British ww2 MDVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Minelayers
British ww2 armed yachts

✙ Axis ww2 Fleets

Japan ww2 Imperial Japanese Navy
WW2 Japanese Battleships
Kongō class Fast Battleships (1912)
Fuso class battleships (1915)
Ise class battleships (1917)
Nagato class Battleships (1919)
Yamato class Battleships (1941)
B41 class Battleships (project)

WW2 Japanese cruisers
Tenryū class cruisers (1918)
Kuma class cruisers (1919)
Nagara class (1920)
Sendai class Cruisers (1923)
IJN Yūbari (1923)
Furutaka class Cruisers (1925)
Aoba class heavy cruisers (1926)
Nachi class Cruisers (1927)
Takao class cruisers (1930)
Mogami class cruisers (1932)
Tone class cruisers (1937)
Katori class cruisers (1939)
Agano class cruisers (1941)
Oyodo (1943)

Seaplane & Aircraft Carriers
Hōshō (1921)
IJN Akagi (1925)
IJN Kaga (1927)
IJN Ryujo (1931)
IJN Soryu (1935)
IJN Hiryu (1937)
Shokaku class (1937)
Zuiho class (1936) comp.40
Ruyho (1933) comp.42
Junyo class (1941)
IJN Taiho (1943)
Chitose class (comp. 1943)
IJN Shinano (1944)
Unryu class (1944)
IJN Ibuki (1942)

Taiyo class (1940)
IJN Kaiyo (1938)
IJN Shinyo (1934)

Notoro (1920)
Kamoi (1922)
Chitose class (1936)
Mizuho (1938)
Nisshin (1939)

IJN Aux. Seaplane tenders
Akistushima (1941)
Shimane Maru class (1944)
Yamashiro Maru class (1944)

Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation

WW2 Japanese Destroyers
Mutsuki class (1925)
Fubuki class (1927)
Akatsuki class (1932)
Hatsuharu class (1932)
Shiratsuyu class (1935)
Asashio class (1936)
Kagero class (1938)
Yugumo class (1941)
Akitsuki class (1941)
IJN Shimakaze (1942)

WW2 Japanese Submarines
KD1 class (1921)
Koryu class
Kaiten class
Kairyu class
IJN Midget subs

WW2 Japanese Amphibious ships/Crafts
Shinshu Maru class (1935)
Akistu Maru class (1941)
Kumano Maru class (1944)
SS class LS (1942)
T1 class LS (1944)
T101 class LS (1944)
T103 class LS (1944)
Shohatsu class LC (1941)
Chuhatsu class LC (1942)
Moku Daihatsu class (1942)
Toku Daihatsu class (1944)

WW2 Japanese minelayers
IJN Armed Merchant Cruisers
WW2 Japanese Escorts
Tomozuru class (1933)
Otori class (1935)
Matsu class (1944)
Tachibana class (1944)

WW2 Japanese Sub-chasers
WW2 Japanese MLs
Shinyo class SB
⚑ Neutral

Armada de Argentina Argentinian Navy

Rivadavia class Battleships
Cruiser La Argentina
Veinticinco de Mayo class cruisers
Argentinian Destroyers
Santa Fe class sub. Bouchard class minesweepers King class patrol vessels

Marinha do Brasil Brazilian Navy

Minas Gerais class Battleships (1912)
Cruiser Bahia
Brazilian Destroyers
Humaita class sub.
Tupi class sub.

Armada de Chile Armada de Chile

Almirante Latorre class battleships
Cruiser Esmeralda (1896)
Cruiser Chacabuco (1911)
Chilean DDs
Fresia class subs
Capitan O’Brien class subs

Søværnet Danish Navy

Niels Juel
Danish ww2 Torpedo-Boats Danish ww2 submarines Danish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Merivoimat Finnish Navy

Coastal BB Ilmarinen
Finnish ww2 submarines
Finnish ww2 minelayers

Nautiko Hellenon Hellenic Navy

Greek ww2 Destroyers
Greek ww2 submarines
Greek ww2 minelayers

Marynarka Vojenna Polish Navy

Polish ww2 Destroyers
Polish ww2 cruisers
Polish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Portuguese navy ww2 Portuguese Navy

Douro class DDs
Delfim class sub
Velho class gb
Albuquerque class gb
Nunes class sloops

Romanian Navy Romanian Navy

Romanian ww2 Destroyers
Romanian ww2 Submarines

Royal Norwegian Navy Sjøforsvaret

Norwegian ww2 Torpedo-Boats

Spanish Armada Spanish Armada

España class Battleships
Blas de Lezo class cruisers
Canarias class cruisers
Cervera class cruisers
Cruiser Navarra
Spanish Destroyers
Spanish Submarines
Dedalo seaplane tender
Spanish Gunboats
Spanish Minelayers

Svenska Marinen Svenska Marinen

Gustav V class BBs (1918)
Interwar swedish BB projects

Tre Kronor class (1943)
Gotland (1933)
Fylgia (1905)

Ehrernskjold class DDs (1926)
Psilander class DDs (1926)
Klas Horn class DDs (1931)
Romulus class DDs (1934)
Göteborg class DDs (1935)
Mode class DDs (1942)
Visby class DDs (1942)
Öland class DDs (1945)

Swedish ww2 TBs
Swedish ww2 Submarines
Swedish ww2 Minelayers
Swedish ww2 MTBs
Swedish ww2 Patrol Vessels
Swedish ww2 Minesweepers

Türk Donanmasi Turkish Navy

Turkish ww2 Destroyers
Turkish ww2 submarines

Royal Yugoslav Navy Royal Yugoslav Navy

Dubrovnik class DDs
Beograd class DDs
Hrabi class subs

Royal Thai Navy Royal Thai Navy

Taksin class
Ratanakosindra class
Sri Ayuthia class
Puket class
Tachin class
Sinsamudar class sub

minor navies Minor Navies


The Cold War

Royal Navy Royal Navy
Sovietskaya Flota Sovietskiy flot
US Navy USN (1990)


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