Wednesday, May 6, 2015

China's nuclear submarine fleet vulnerable due to idleness: report

Focus Taiwan
6 May 2015

Taipei, May 6 (CNA) Nuclear-powered submarines in China's navy are vulnerable to precision missile attacks because of the significant amount of time they spend at their bases, according to an article in the May edition of the Chinese-language Kanwa Defense Review (漢和防務評論).

The report by the Toronto-based publication said the Chinese navy's three main nuclear-powered submarines, the 11,500 tonne Type 094 with ballistic missile launching capabilities, and the 5,500 tonne Type 091 and 7,000 tonne Type 93 spent much of 2014 at their bases.

China's most advanced Type 094 submarines were not ordered to maintain combat readiness and remained largely inactive.

While the Type 093 submarines put in more active duty hours than the Type 091, they were still more idle than the Russian and American submarine fleets, which are known to spend up to one-third of the year on active duty.

Although well protected in subterranean bases in Qingdao and Hainan Island that are carved out of rocks, China's nuclear submarines could be easily nullified by precision missile attacks aimed at collapsing the caves' entrances, rendering them sitting ducks.

The ability to quickly submerge and reach the necessary depth and distance away from base is the best course of action for submarines during war time, the report said.

The report questioned whether it was wise for the Chinese navy to continue basing its submarines in subterranean bases at a time when Russia is phasing the practice out, such as at the underground submarine base in Balaklava in the Crimea Peninsula that was built during the Soviet era. 

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