Chinese submarine 361
|Class and type:||Ming-class submarine|
|Length:||76 m (249 ft 4 in)|
|Beam:||7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)|
|Draft:||5.1 m (16 ft 9 in)|
|Complement:||55 (9 officers)|
The submarine hull number No. 361 named The Great Wall #61 (长城61号) was a Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy Type-035AIP (ES5E variant) (NATO reporting name Ming III) conventional diesel/electric submarine. In April 2003, during an exercise in the Yellow Sea between North Korea and China's Shandong Province, the vessel suffered a mechanical failure that killed all 70 crew members on board. It was one of China's worst peacetime military disasters. The PLA Navy's Commander Shi Yunsheng and Political Commissar Yang Huaiqing were both dismissed as a result of the accident.
According to CNN, China was increasing training and exercises of its submarines in the east to carry out a policy of "sea denial" to counter the powerful U.S. Pacific fleet.
According to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, all 70 crew members died when the submarine's diesel engine used up all the oxygen (because it failed to shut down properly) while the boat was submerged on April 16, 2003. The submarine, which was commanded by Commodore Cheng Fuming (程福明), had been taking part in naval exercises east of Inner Changshan Islands in the Yellow Sea off the coast of Northeastern China. Along with its normal complement, the crew also included 13 trainee cadets from the Chinese naval academy.
At a press conference on May 8, 2003, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue stated that while on an exercise east of Changshan Islands, the No. 361 submarine was lost due to a mechanical problem and all 70 onboard perished. The submarine had been towed to a port as of the time of the press conference.
After the disaster, the crippled submarine drifted for ten days because it was on a silent, no-contact exercise. The boat was discovered by Chinese fishermen who noticed its periscope sticking above the surface on April 25, 2003. The submarine was initially towed to Yulin Harbor near Sanya on Hainan Island before being taken back to the northeast seaport of Dalian in Liaoning province.
On May 2, 2003, Central Military Commission chairman Jiang Zemin said in a condolence message to the families of the dead that "the officers and sailors of 361 remembered their sacred duty entrusted to them by the Party and the people. They died on duty, sacrificed themselves for the country, and they are great losses to the People’s Navy."
CMC Vice-chairman Guo Boxiong led an enquiry into the incident, which resulted in the dismissal or demotion of five senior PLAN officers in June 2013: Navy Commander Shi Yunsheng (replaced by Zhang Dingfa) and Political Commissar Yang Huaiqing; North Sea Fleet Commander Ding Yiping, Political Commissar Chen Xianfeng (陈先锋), and Chief of Staff Xiao Xinnian. Ding Yiping had been groomed to be the candidate for Navy Commander, but was removed from contention after the accident. Admiral Wu Shengli eventually succeeded Zhang Dingfa as Commander.
- Becker, Jeffrey; Liebenberg, David; Mackenzie, Peter (December 2013). "Behind the Periscope: Leadership in China's Navy". Defense Technical Information Center. p. 81.
- You Ji (2012). "Meeting the Challenge of the Upcoming PLAAF Leadership Reshuffle". The Chinese Air Force: Evolving Concepts, Roles, and Capabilities (PDF). National Defense University Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-16-091386-0.
- China says sub disaster killed 70
- "Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Press Conference on May 8, 2003". Archived from the original on 2006-03-08. Retrieved 2005-09-26.
- "2003年5月8日外交部发言人在记者招待会上答记者问" (Press release). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 2003-05-08. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
- Song, Liyun, ed. (2003-05-02). "我海军一潜艇失事 70官兵遇难 江泽民发唁电" [A Navy submarine suffered accident, all 70 onboard lost, Jiang Zemin sent condolence.]. Beijing. Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
- Type 035 (Ming Class) Diesel-Electric Submarine
- Chinese Submarine Accident Kills 70 (Taiwanese Security Research)
- includes a picture of 361
- China sub deaths 'must rouse Navy' (BBC News)
- Sackings after China's sub disaster (BBC News)
- China sub victims 'suffocated' (BBC News)
- HK press seeks answers to sub accident (BBC News)
- Picture of Submarine 361