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Han class

Nuclear-powered attack submarine

Han class submarine

The Han class was the first China's domestically produced nuclear-powered submarine

Country of origin China
Entered service 1974
Crew 75 men
Diving depth (operational) 200 m
Diving depth (maximum) 300 m
Dimensions and displacement
Length 98 m
Beam 10 m
Draught 7.4 m
Surfaced displacement 4 500 tons
Submerged displacement 5 550 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 12 knots
Submerged speed 25 knots
Nuclear reactor 1 x 90 MW
Missiles C-801 Ying-Ji anti-ship missiles launched from the vertical launch tubes
Torpedoes 6 x 533 mm with 18 torpedoes
Other up to 36 mines in place of the torpedoes


   China began building its submarine force in the 1950s, basing its boats primarily on Soviet designs. However, with the split between Mao Tse Tung and Khrushchev, developments in the 1960s had to be carried out without outside assistance. China lacked the scientific, engineering or technological resources to match the USSR or Western navies, and development of an indigenous nuclear submarine was protracted.

   The first of the Type 091 class attack boats, known in the West as the Han class, was laid down in 1967. It was launched in 1970 and commissioned in 1974. However because of continuing problems with the nuclear reactor the lead submarine "Long March-1" with a pennant number 401 was probably not truly operational for a decade. Four more boats were commissioned through the 1980s.

   These boats are rather noisy, even by the standards of the time they were built. Their equipment, based on Soviet designs of the 1950s, was primitive. However, the original Soviet ESM system, as well as the ineffective passive sonar, have been replaced by French equipment, and the last three boats have been given an even more extensive refit.

   The primary function of the Han class appears to be anti-surface-ship: the boats carry a mix of straight-running and homing torpedoes, as well as the C-801 Ying-Ji (Eagle Strike) anti-ship missile. They are too noisy to be effective anti-submarine vessels, but they have the capability to strike at shipping lanes far beyond China's coastal waters.

   The next-generation Type 093 (Western designation Shang class) was is intended to replace the Hans. These new boat were built with Russian help. The design is reportedly based on the Soviet Victor III, which would make it the equivalent of one of the US Navy's Sturgeon-class boats of the 1970s and 1980s. The Type 093 class is not as capable or advanced as the modern Western submarines. The first boat of the class has been under construction at the Huludao ship yard since 1994 and was commissioned only in 2006. The programme has been considerably delayed due to enormous technical difficulties.

   In 2013 after nearly 40 years of service China has decommissioned the first Han class boat. The vessel is now open to the public.

   The last three boats of the class are still in active service with the China's Navy. These last three boats were built to an improved project. These boats are several meters longer, and have vertical launch tubes fitted to allow anti-ship missiles to be carried without cutting into the torpedo load.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
(401) 1967 1970 1974

decommissioned in 2013

(402) ? 1977 1980


(403) ? 1983 1984

active, in service

(404) ? 1987 1988

active, in service

(405) ? 1990 1991

active, in service



Han class submarine

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