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People's Liberation Navy - Submarine Branch

The Soviet Union played a key role in the early development of China's submarine forces. Although the PLAN was founded in April 1949, it was not until April 1951 that it organized 275 personnel into a submarine study team that studied at the Soviet Pacific Fleet's submarine unit stationed at Lushun.

The PLAN chose Qingdao on the Shandong Peninsula as its base for its submarine training and operations. In May 1952, the PLAN set up its first submarine base in Qingdao, and, in June 1954, the PLAN established its first independent submarine dadui in Qingdao and purchased four old submarines from the Soviet Union. The two medium-class submarines were named New China 11 and 12 and the two small-class submarines were designated National Defense 21 and 22.

The PLAN also chose Qingdao as the site for its submarine school, which was created in August 1953 as the 4th Naval School. In September 1957, the PLAN changed the name to the Naval Submarine School. In June 1983, the school again changed its name to the Naval Submarine Academy. In January 1956, China began assembling the first type-03 submarine from parts provided by the Soviet Union at Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard, which was then deployed to the PLAN in June 1957 and named New China 15.

The Sino-Soviet rift that began in 1959 and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) marked major setbacks for the PLAN submarine forces, as both events resulted in the loss of essential technological expertise. During the Cultural Revolution, the Naval Submarine School was closed in 1969 and not reopened until December 1973. As a result of these setbacks, though production was begun in 1959, the first submarine (type 33 Romeo class) produced from domestic components was not commissioned in the PLAN until June 1969.

In the early 1970s, the PLAN began organizing several division-grade submarine zhidui, which, at that time, were subordinate to each fleet headquarters. In addition, the PLAN organized its first nuclear submarine unit in 1975, which, at that time, was directly subordinate to PLAN Headquarters. Today, each submarine zhidui is administratively subordinate to a fleet support base. In 1982, the PLAN successfully fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile, thus marking the emergence of China's submarine forces into a new phase of modern development.



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