Nuclear Weapons

A Closer Look at China’s New SSBNs

10.16.07 | 2 min read | Text by Hans Kristensen

China’s new Jin-class SSBNs at Huludao shipyard.
(click on image for higher-resolution picture)

By Hans M. Kristensen

The two new Jin-class SSBNs I discovered on Google Earth earlier this month have now been photographed in port by an anonymous photographer. The photograph, which has appeared on several Chinese web sites (here and here) and sent to me by David, clearly shows the features of what I estimated to be the Jin-class submarine.

Nothing is known about who took this photograph or whether or not it has been digitally manipulated. But if it is authentic, it appears to lay to rest speculations that the Jin-class would carry 16 missiles. Instead the photograph confirms the assessment made by the U.S. intelligence community by clearly showing the wide-open hatches of 12 launch tubes.

The photograph shows the submarines at an angle, which makes it difficult to precisely measure the length of the various sections. Furthermore, he second submarine on the other side of the pier is obscured by the submarine closest to the camera, making comparison of the two impossible. Yet, a comparison made from the satellite images on my previous blog show that the two submarines have the same overall dimensions.

The new photograph shows the sail of both submarines, which appear to be very similar. Moreover, the front submarine shows a unique feature on the top of the rudder section, which may be a sensor of some kind.

Overall, it is not as if the Chinese are trying to hide anything. Indeed, it is almost as if they want to show what they’ve got.

Background: Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning