North Sea Fleet [NSF]
The North Sea Fleet is headquartered at Qingdao, on the southern coast of the Shandong Peninsula, and was formally established by the Ministry of National Defense in May 1960, though a PLAN presence at Qingdao has existed since September 1950.
The commander of the North Sea Fleet is also the Deputy Commander of the Jinan Military Region.
The flagship of the fleet is the DDG 112 Harbin.
The North Sea Fleet's AOR extends from the Korean border to roughly 35°10'N. This generally covers the Shenyang, Beijing, and Jinan military regions.
In the past, the NSF was given top priority because of the Soviet/Russian threat from the north and because the NSF houses many of the Navy's R & D facilities. (During the formative years of the Navy, northeast China had the industrial infrastructure needed to support them.)
The North Sea Fleet's major naval bases consist of Qingdao, Lushun, and Xiaopingdao.
In 1993 the NSF afloat force, according to declassified ONI documents, was comprised of one destroyer flotilla, four submarine flotillas, and three missile/torpedo attack boat flotillas.
By 2004 the North Sea Fleet looked significantly different. Instead of one destroyer flotilla, the NSF, like the other fleets, is thought to have three flotillas according to Jane's Fighting Ships 2002-2003, Srikanth Kondapalli in his essay "China's Naval Structure and Dynamics" and Bernard Cole in his essay on PLAN organization. The Directory of PRC Military Personalities for 2002 only clearly identified one flotilla, the 92132 unit at Qingdao, though it does identify another unit at Lushun, the 91381 unit that commands FFG 543 Dandong.
There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the number of submarine flotillas currently within the NSF. According to a number of sources, there are three submarine flotillas, or detachments as they are called in Chinese and other foreign sources, the 2nd at Qingdao, the 12th at Lushun, and the 62nd at an unidentified location. However, the Directory of PRC Military Personalities - 2002 and Jane's Fighting Ships 2002-2003 lists only two detachments, none of which are identified.
To further complicate matters, Jane's Sentinel - China and Northeast Asia: January 2001 - May 2001 identifies a fourth flotilla, the 1st, located at Wiangezhuang. Jane's indicates that the 1st Flotilla commands the 5 Han class submarines and the lone Xia class ballistic missile submarine. Sentinel also indicates that the 2nd Flotilla is comprised of roughly 10 Romeo class submarines, that the 12th has roughly 10 Mings, and that the 62nd is an experimental development unit, comprised of the Golf, a Romeo and a Song.
The existence of a 1st Flotilla was also indicated by Peter Kien-hong Yu in his chapter in the SCPS Yearbook on PLA Affairs - 1987.
According to Jane's Sentinel the internal structure of the 2nd and 12th flotillas is composed of two, four-boat squadrons with two extra boats cycling through the yard or maintenance periods at any given time. Sentinel indicates that the 1st and 62nd do not have the same internal structure.
While the existence of the 12th and 22nd has been known for some time, and was confirmed by Lewis and Xue Litai in their China's Strategic Seapower, confirming the identity or existence of the other units is problematic as supporting documents used by the above sources are unavailable. Additionally, discussions concerning PLAN organization generally do not identify decommissioned or inactivated units, so it is probable, or even certain, that some units are no longer in service. Jane's Sentinel does indicate that there were more submarine flotillas in the Navy but with the reduction in the number of Romeo's that the number of flotillas has declined overtime.
Kondapalli, Cole and Jane's Fighting Ships 2002-2003 indicate that each fleet has one mine countermeasures flotilla and that the North Sea Fleet also has an amphibious or landing ship zhidui, though neither the Directory of PRC Military Personalities, Chinese Defense Today nor China-Defense.com lists these types of units on the NSF's order of battle.
Virtually every source consulted agrees on the presence of one fast attack / speed boat / patrol boat unit in the North Sea Fleet.
The Liberation Army Daily reported in February 2003 that nearly all of the destroyers of a North Sea Fleet Destroyer Zhidui, possibly the 92132 unit, achieved a category one level of proficiency and readiness, allowing these units to conduct advanced training. One destroyer in the zhidui had not attained the category one designation as it was undergoing yard work. Following their being designated category one, the vessels under the command of the zhidui went to sea and conducted gunnery practice in main and auxiliary guns, as well as simulated missile attacks. [Liberation Army Daily, 10 Feb 2003 (PLA Activities Report February 2003)]
An unidentified submarine zhidui conducted training operations in the Yellow Sea in late January 2003. This was the units first training exercise of the year and consisted of five submarines. The submarines conducted a variety of exercises depending on their submarines training category. Category One submarines focused on "enemy situations" and methods of operations (tactics). Categoy One submarines are required to complete two or more exercises on key subjects and tactics within a year. Category Two/Three submarines follow a training format set out in the PLA's military training and examination programs (MTEP), emphasizing in-shore training and instruction at port facilities. [People's Navy, 08 Feb 2003 (PLA Activities Report February 2003)]
A North Sea Fleet rescue ship dadui, or group, not previously identified as being located in NSF, is reported to have conducted a submarine rescue exercise in the Yellow Sea area in late January 2003. Four divers were involved in the rescue of the "submarine". The exercise is reported to have lasted for roughly two weeks and completed training on seven subject areas, assessed the feasibility of six emergency rescue plans, and created "twelve new methods of reducing underwater pressure" improving the units ability to operate. [Liberation Army Daily, 07 Feb 2003 (PLA Activities Report February 2003)]
- Chinese Defence Today "PLA Navy North Sea Fleet"
- Bernard D. Cole. "The Organization of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)" The People's Liberation Army as Organization: Reference Volume v1.0, James C. Mulvenon and Andrew N. D. Yang eds. (Santa Monico: RAND; 2002)
- Bernard D. Cole. The Great Wall at Sea: China's Navy Enters the Twenty-First Century (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press; 2001): p.82
- Directory of PRC Military Personalities Serold Hawaii Inc, November 2002
- Directory of PRC Military Personalities Serold Hawaii Inc, June 2000
- Jane's Fighting Ships 2002-2003
- Jane's Sentinel - China and Northeast Asia: January 2001 - May 2001; p. 109
- Peter Kien-hong Yu. "The PLA Navy" SCPS Yearbook on PLA Affairs - 1987, Richard H. Yang ed. (Kaohsing: Sun Yat-sen Center for Policy Studies, National Sun Yat-sen University; 1988).
- Srikanth Kondapalli. "China's Naval Structure and Dynamics" Strategic Analysis (October 1999)
- John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai. China's Strategic Seapower: The Politics of Force Modernization in the Nuclear Age (Stanford: Stanford University Press; 1994): p. 314. n112.
- United States Navy. Office of Naval Intelligence. Worldwide Threat to U.S. Navy and Marine Forces; Volume II Country Study: China (December 1993) [ONI-2660S-007-93-VOL II]
- "People's Liberation Army - Order of Battle" by Xinhui @ China Defense.com 6 Aug. 2002
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