Ming Type 035

The Ming-class is a remodeled Romeo-class submarine. The Romeo-class submarines were built using Soviet designs based on the German Type-21 U- boat of 1944. While these boats are entirely obsolete by modern standards, they are useful for patrol and coastal defense duties, and continued construction in the 1990s provided a relatively inexpensive replacement for aging Romeo-class boats.

Type 035 Ming-class Nomenclature

Rivalry among the Mongol imperial heirs, natural disasters, and numerous peasant uprisings led to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. The last of the nine successors of Khubilai was expelled from Dadu in 1368 by Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) was founded by a Han Chinese peasant and former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader. Having its capital first at Nanjing (which means Southern Capital) and later at Beijing (Northern Capital), the Ming reached the zenith of power during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. The Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. The maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute for the Chinese emperor. Internally, the Grand Canal was expanded to its farthest limits and proved to be a stimulus to domestic trade. The Ming maritime expeditions stopped rather suddenly after 1433, the date of the last voyage. Historians have given as one of the reasons the great expense of large-scale expeditions at a time of preoccupation with northern defenses against the Mongols. Opposition at court also may have been a contributing factor, as conservative officials found the concept of expansion and commercial ventures alien to Chinese ideas of government. Long wars with the Mongols, incursions by the Japanese into Korea, and harassment of Chinese coastal cities by the Japanese in the sixteenth century weakened Ming rule, which became, as earlier Chinese dynasties had, ripe for an alien takeover. In 1644 the Manchus took Beijing from the north and became masters of north China, establishing the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644- 1911).

Type 035 Ming-class Design

The improved version is somewhat shorter than the initial Ming design, but with a deeper draft and somewhat greater displacement. The improved Ming has eight torpedo tubes [versus six on the earlier version], with the two new tubes placed astern.

Type 035 Ming-class Program

In 1967 the Central Military Comission approved the development of the first generation medium-sized conventional-powered torpedo submarine. The Navy put forward comparatively high tactical criteria for this type of submarine, with an underwater speed was to be 40% higher than the copied improved version of Soviet medium-sized Romeo-class conventional-powered submarine. Therefore, the guiding direction for the development of the first generation medium-sized conventional-powered submarine was to utilize to the full the experience gained in the copying work and also the improved design as well as the existing technical foundation and make breakthroughs in principal technologies such as underwater cruising speed.

The No.701 Institute, responsible for designing the medium-sized conventional-powered submarine, under the direction of Zhang Nanru, Yang Huansheng and Li Lianyou, placed the upgrading of underwater navigation performance of the submarine in the first priority. Starting from improvement on submarine's hull form and reduction of submarine water resistance, on the basis of a great number of tests run by No.702 Institute, they decided to adopt a hull form of straight-raked bow, slanting stern, an adjustment in hull's length-breadth ratio, reasonable arrangement of piping and valving in superstructure, reduced space between decks, reduction of :deck width, improving the form and arrangement of flooding ports, so as to reduce submarine :drag to a great extent.

The No.714 Institute, responsible for designing underwater power equipment, designed the large power propelling electromotor and its corresponding control equipment and gave it to Xiangtan Electromotor Factory for trial-production. The lnstitute also selected the medium-speed diesel trial-produced by Shaanxi Diesel Factory, and increased the batteries to four groups. So the power of the underwater power plant was greatly increased. A high efficiency propeller was also designed. Due to adopting these measures, with the submarine volumetric displacement not increasing very much in comparison with the improved version of Soviet medium-sized conventional-powered submarine, her underwater propelling power and the battery energy was doubled, thus ensuring the submarine's propulsion characteristics.

This first generation of medium-sized conventional-powered submarine was built by Wuchan shipyard. Under the direction of chief constructor Wei Xumin, the first boat was started in October 1969, launched in July 1971, and handed over for use in April 1974. The first boat built by Jiangnan shipyard was also built in November 1974. Soon after, aiming at the problems appearing in the trial-voyage of the first boat, Wuchang shipyard made improved design on the second boat, with considerable improvement in performance.

The first three units of this class -- ES5C/D (prototype variant) -- were completed between 1971 and 1979, though one was later scrapped after a fire. These earlier units (pennant No. 232, 233 and an unidentified boat) had faults which delayed the series production of the class, and they were retired in the 1980s.

In December 1983, a state appraisal was carried out on the first generation of medium-sized conventional-powered submarine, proving that the performance of speed and power, maneuverability, seakeeping, underwater endurance and underwater radiated noise were considerably improved and enhanced in comparison to the copied improved version of medium-sized conventional-powered submarine, the equipment in the boat was basically reliable.

After the redesign, the Type 035 passed the national certification in 1983 and production resumed in 1987 at a rate of 1 unit per year. The program was thought to have terminated in 1992, but in fact it accelerated to 2 units per year from 1993. The 16th unit of this class was delivered in May 1997, and deployed to the South China Sea in June 1998. According to some sources, the other 15 Ming-class submarines all serve in the North Sea Fleet, with other sources maintain that these units are all deployed with the East Sea Fleet.

Thought to have terminated in 1996, the production line of the Type 035 was re-opened due to delays in the new Type 039 submarine program. The new boat was reportedly two meters longer than previous units, suggesting plans for continued production of this obsolete design. The Project 035 program produced its 20th hull late in 2000. An additional 6 boats (pennant No. 305~310) in the improved Type 035G (ES5F?) model were built between 1997 and 2001. As of mid-2002 China had launched a total of 21 MINGs, and the program appeared to have finally concluded in favor of the more capable Song or Yuan classes.

Strangely, the 2013 edition of Combat Fleets reports pennant numbers 311, 312 and 313, which are not reported by World Warships. According to world Warships, a total of 18 units remained in service as of 24 June 2012, but this assumed that both units which suffered major fires remain in service. World Defense Almanac 2013 and Asia Military Review agree that only 14 remain in service.

No. 361

In late April or early May 2003 70 sailors on board the No. 361 submarine (Pictured here or here) were killed in an accident that occured off the Chinese coast, east of the Neichangshan Islands in Northeastern China. The Ming-class vessels usually carry nine officers and 46 crew, suggesting that the others aboard might have been technicians or staff officers. It is thought that the submarine was taking part in naval exercises off the coast when it had a critical mechanical failure.

Initial reports from news sources, and this organization, initially believed that the submarine was from the East Sea Fleet but additional information seems to indicate that it was from the North. Images acquired of the submarine and some of its sister ships illustrate a mountainous geography near the naval base which would be consistent with the north but inconsistent with information concerning the submarine base at Qingdao.

China's Xinhua reported the news on May 2 stating that the submarine was either being towed or had already been towed back to an unidentified port. Early analysis indicates that the submarine, if towed to a naval base may been towed to Dalian or Lushun.

The cause of the accident was not initially disclosed. Military analysts speculated it may have suffered a gas leak, caught fire or collided with something. THe accident likely happened while the submarine was on the surface. If the accident happened when the boat was under water, it was unlikely that it could have been towed into port. The submarine's batteries might have leaked acid that mixed with seawater, creating chlorine gas that killed the crew. Or the torpedoes could have leaked propellant that poisoned the crew.

May 26, 2005 Incident

On May 26, 2005, a Chinese Ming-class submarine was reported to have broken down while sailing near the Pratas Islands in the South China Sear. A fire that had broken out onboard the submarine while submerged was reported as the cause of the incident, which occured in international waters between Taiwan and Hainan. The incident was believed to have occured during a military exercise because of the presence of up to four PLAN ships in the area, in addition to another submarine.

The damaged submarine was towed back to the Yulin Naval Port on China's Hainan Island. No number of casualties and/or injuries were made available.

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