Type 091 submarine

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Han-class SSN profile
A Type 091 submarine in 1993
Class overview
NameHan class
BuildersBohai Shipyard, Huludao
Operators People's Liberation Army Navy
Succeeded byType 093
In commission1974–present
General characteristics
TypeNuclear submarine
Displacement5,500 tons (submerged)
Length98 m (321 ft 6 in)
Beam10 m (32 ft 10 in)
Draft7.4 m (24 ft 3 in)
Propulsion1 nuclear turbo-electric engine – pressurized water reactor
Speed25 knots (46 km/h)[2]
Armament6 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes able to launch the RPK-2

The Type 091 (Chinese designation: 09-I; NATO reporting name: Han class) is a first-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine produced by China. It was the first nuclear submarine employed by the People's Liberation Army Navy Submarine Force,[3] and the first indigenously produced nuclear attack submarine in Asia.[4]


The Chinese naval nuclear power program started in July 1958 when the Central Military Commission gave approval to start the Type 091 submarine project.[5] Mao Zedong declared that China would build nuclear attack submarines "even if it took ten thousand years."[6] Peng Shilu was the first chief designer of this project.[7][8][9] The first submarine in the class, Changzheng 1 ("Long March 1"), was commissioned in 1974;[3] the last was launched in 1990.[1] In 1983, Peng moved to the civilian development of nuclear power plants, and he was succeeded at the nuclear submarine project by Huang Xuhua.[10][8]

The Type 091 has operated mainly in local waters, and has been involved in several incidents. One submarine shadowed the Kitty Hawk carrier battle group in October 1994, provoking a stand-off.[11][12] Another entered Japanese territorial waters near Ishigaki Island (part of Okinawa Prefecture) near Taiwan in November 2004, causing the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to go on alert for the second time since the Second World War; China apologized for the trespass and blamed "technical reasons" on the submarine.[13]

The boats have received major upgrades and numerous refits since commissioning. They have six 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes and carry 20 torpedoes. Alternatively, they can carry 36 mines in their tubes. It 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 Type 091 is extremely noisy and has poor radiation shielding, a result of being based on 1950s technology.[14] It cannot launch missiles while submerged.[15] Overall, the submarine's tactical utility is limited against modern combatants.[14]

Failed lease to Pakistan[edit]

In 1989, Pakistan made an abortive attempt to procure a Type 091 for US$63 million in 1992,: contents [16] as a response to the Soviet K-43 leased to India in 1988.[17]: 92  Occasional rumours of Pakistani interest in a Type 091 continued to surface as late as 2012; any purchase would be useful mainly as an antiquated training platform.[14][full citation needed]


Builder Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Status
401 Changzheng 1 Bohai Shipyard,
Huludao [18]
1970 1974 2000[19] Decommissioned in 2000.
Preserved at the Chinese Navy Museum, Qingdao.[20]
402 Changzheng 2 Bohai Shipyard,
Huludao [18]
1977 1980 2004[19] Decommissioned in 2004
403 Changzheng 3 Bohai Shipyard,
Huludao [18]
1983 21 September 1984 [18] Active
404 Changzheng 4 Bohai Shipyard,
Huludao [18]
1987 November 1988 [18] Active
405 Changzheng 5 Bohai Shipyard,
Huludao [18]
8 April 1990 [18] December 1990 [18] Active

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Erickson and Goldstein (2007: 58)
  2. ^ Erickson and Goldstein (2007: 68)
  3. ^ a b Purser, Benjamin S. III; Chanse, Michael S. (3 August 2012). "Waypoint or Destination? The Jin-Class Submarine and China's Quest for Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrence". China Brief. 12 (15). Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 November 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  4. ^ "China's Very First Nuclear Attack Submarines Had Some Major Fatal Flaws". 15 January 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-10-27. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  5. ^ "Type 09-1 Han Class". Archived from the original on 2018-10-22. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  6. ^ China’s ‘Long March’ to a Credible Nuclear Attack Submarine The National Interest Archived 20 May 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "The achievements of CNNC during the year 2017". www.china5e.com (in Chinese). 中国能源网. Archived from the original on 2018-11-08. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  8. ^ a b Li, Zhongxiao (2018-12-06). "There is no "father" of China's nuclear submarines, and even if there is, it should not be Huang Xuhua". Sina News (in Chinese). Beijing, China: Sina Corp. Archived from the original on 2018-12-09. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  9. ^ Erickson and Goldstein (2007: 59)
  10. ^ Sullivan, Lawrence R.; Liu, Nancy Y. (2015). Historical Dictionary of Science and Technology in Modern China. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 322–3. ISBN 978-0-8108-7855-6. Archived from the original on 2023-03-28. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  11. ^ Harris, John F.; Lippman, Thomas W. (1994-12-15). "CHINESE WATCHED AS U.S. NAVY TRACKED SUB". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 2020-07-13. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  12. ^ "Faceoff Between U.S. Ship, Chinese Sub Is Revealed: Military: October incident in Yellow Sea highlights growing chance of naval conflict. Beijing sounds warning". Los Angeles Times. 1994-12-14. Archived from the original on 2021-09-21. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  13. ^ "China Apologizes for Submarine Incursion". Archived from the original on 2006-10-23.
  14. ^ a b c Rehman (2012: 75)
  15. ^ Type 09-1 Han class Archived 2005-06-24 at the Wayback Machine, globalsecurity.org
  16. ^ United States Joint Economic Committee (2016). China's Economic Dilemmas in the 1990s: The Problem of Reforms, Modernisation and Interdependence. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-315-48543-0. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  17. ^ Dittmer, Lowell (2015). South Asia's Nuclear Security Dilemma: India, Pakistan, and China: India, Pakistan, and China. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-45956-9. Archived from the original on 28 March 2023. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jane's Fighting Ships, 2023-24 Edition, ISBN 978-0-7106-3428 3, page 133
  19. ^ a b "Meet China's First Nuclear-Powered Submarine (It Was a Total Disaster)". 6 December 2018. Archived from the original on 2019-05-09. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  20. ^ Zhao, Lei (27 October 2016). "Nuke submarine to go on display". China Daily. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018.