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People's Liberation Army Navy


The newly developed Type 039 Wuhan C- class submarines are also referred to as Song-class. The Song-class, produced at the Wuhan shipyard, is the most advanced submarine of domestic Chinese construction. It was first launched on 25 May 1994. The submarine is 75 meters long, and 8.4 meters wide, giving a length-breadth ratio of 8.9, about the same as that of the 035-type. The submarine is equipped with a seven-blade large slanted propeller and shock-absorbance for the main engine. The body of the submarine is water-drop shaped and it has a wrap-casing rudder. It is capable of launching Yingji 8 anti-vessel guided missiles from underwater. Seen from the color of the submarine's hull, it is already using damping tiles similar to those used on the "K"-class submarines. Overall, their shape is like that of Western submarines and their technology is equivalent to the international level of the early 1980s. They are a great advance on the Type 035.

Intended to replace the aging Ming-class submarines, at least two are already in service with two or three additional units under construction. Incorporating a German propulsion system and advanced hydrodynamic design, the Song-class is said to be as quiet as the American Los Angles nuclear submarines. But its overall performance is constrained by the use of 1980s technology, and the fact that the PLAN purchased the Russian Kilo-class submarines suggests that there are problems with the Song-class. Various upgrades to the Song are reported under development, and an improved version may have already entered service. It is believed that the first naval platform capable of submerged launching of cruise missiles will be the Song-class submarine.


Builder Wuhan SY
Propulsion Diesel-electric
Length 75 meters / 246 feet
Beam 8.4 meters / 27.5 feet
Draft feet
Displacement ~ 2,250 tons submerged
Speed 12 knots surfaced / 22 knots dived
Crew 60
  • YJ-8 missiles
  • 6 21 inch torpedo tubes
  • Construction First of the class launched in May 1994 and started sea trials in August 1995. Two units were in service as of 1997, and two or three additional units under construction. Additional construction of an improved variant was reportedly planned at two per year from 1998 with as many as nine additional improved units contemplated. This program has apparently slowed or been cancelled in favor of Russian-built submarines and continued production of the Ming-class.

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    Updated Friday, August 13, 1999 11:12:13 AM