Type 091 submarine

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A Type 091 submarine in 1993
A Type 091 submarine in 1993
Class overview
Name: Han-class
Builders: Bohai Shipyard, Huludao
Operators:  People's Liberation Army Navy
Succeeded by: Type 093
In commission: 1974-present
Completed: 5
Active: 3
Retired: 2
General characteristics
Type: SSN
Displacement: 5,500 tonnes (submerged)
Length: 98 metres
Beam: 10 metres
Draft: 7.4 metres
Propulsion: 1 Nuclear turbo electric engine - Pressurized water reactor
  • 25 knots (46 km/h) submerged
  • 12 knots (22 km/h) surfaced
Range: Unlimited
Complement: 75
Armament: 6 × 533 mm torpedo tubes
Profile of the type 091

The Type 091 (Chinese designation: 09-I; NATO reporting name: Han-class) was the first class of nuclear-powered submarines (SSN) deployed by the China's People's Liberation Army Navy Submarine Force


The first chief designer of the submarine was an engineer and scientist of nuclear propulsion engineering, Peng Shilu (彭士禄),[1] then in 1983 succeeded by Mr. Huang Xuhua (黄旭华). The first submarine in the class was commissioned in 1974[2] and the fifth and final boat of the class was commissioned in 1991.

The Han class have primarily operated in local waters. However since the 1990s, Hans have been used more aggressively. A Han shadowed a U.S. carrier battle group in the mid-1990s. In November 2004, a Han made an incursion into Japanese territorial waters and prompted Japan's maritime forces to go on alert for only the second time since the end of World War II. The incursion was through the Ishigaki, Okinawa island group, a lightly populated group of islands very near Taiwan. China later apologized for the incursion saying for "technical reasons", it ventured into Japanese waters.[3]

The Han class have gone through major upgrades and numerous refits since their commissioning. The boats have six 533 mm torpedo tubes and carry 20 torpedoes. Alternatively, they can carry 36 mines in their tubes. The Han class is capable of firing sub-launched variants of the C-801 anti-ship missile as well as a range of indigenous and Russian torpedoes or mines. All remaining hulls have been refitted with new sonars, with Type H/SQ2-262B sonar manufactured by No. 613 Factory replacing the original Type 603 sonar on board. Anechoic tiles were added later to reduce noise levels.


The Han-Class is well known for having a noisy reactor and poor radiation shielding, which causes health hazards for her crew as nuclear radiation levels are higher than they should be aboard the submarine. The submarine is also inhibited by an inability to launch missiles while submerged. This creates a tactical disadvantage against opponents that have well-developed anti-submarine warfare systems.[4]

Their design and weapons appear to be inadequate for confronting modern warships.[citation needed] It is believed that long refits have often meant that these submarines have spent more time in port than out at sea, greatly affecting their operational capacity.

Boats of the class[edit]

 Pennant Number   Launched   Completed   Status 
401 1970 1974 Decommissioned 2000
402 1977 1980 Decommissioned 2004
403 1983 1984 Active
404 1987 1988 Active
405 1990 1991 Active

Boat 401 has had its nuclear reactor removed and disposed of. The submarine will be fitted out and serve as a museum exhibit.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Erickson, Andrew S & Goldstein, Lyle J (Winter 2007). China's future nuclear submarine force - Insights from Chinese Writings", Naval War College Review, 60(1): 55-79
  2. ^ The Federation of American Scientists & The Natural Resources Defense Council Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning p.86
  3. ^ "China Apologizes for Submarine Incursion". 
  4. ^ Type 09-1 Han class, globalsecurity.org
  5. ^ "China decommissions 1st nuclear submarine". Xinhua. 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 

External links[edit]