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Type 033 Romeo-class submarine - Origins

In the early days of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the main operational tasks of the PLA Navy was to cooperate with the liberation of coastal islands, resists harassment of coastal areas by the Kuomintang army, defend territorial waters sovereignty, and defend maritime traffic lines. At that time, the equally young naval aviation had limited attack capabilities against the sea. They needed to work with the Air Force to compete with the Kuomintang army for air dominance over the Taiwan Strait. They could not provide comprehensive air cover for surface ships. Therefore, for the navy without full air cover, submarines were the best "strategic" weapon. They could cruise underwater, and also make covert contact with the enemy in surprise attack. Based on this understanding, China began to introduce and build diesel-electric conventional submarines.

The Type 033 submarine was a Soviet Type 633 conventionally powered torpedo attack submarine developed in the late 1950s. NATO called it a Romeo-class or R-class submarine. In terms of design, this type of submarine belonged to the advanced level in the world, and it was a relatively successful submarine designed by the former Soviet Union after World War II. The Type 633 was designed and built by the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Its prototype can be traced back to the German U-boats of the Second World War. At the end of the War, the Soviet Union acquired several advanced Type-XXI U-boats, thus obtaining the key sophisticated technology of U-boats. These technologies were applied to Z-class submarines and W-class submarines. After further improvements, the R-class submarines were derived.

In mid-April 1952, Commander Xiao Jinguang of the Navy and Deputy Commander Luo Shuchu led a delegation of the Chinese government to the Soviet Union to discuss the "Navy Order Agreement." In early 1953, Luo Shunchu went to the Soviet Union again. After several rounds of negotiations, on June 4, 1953, Moscow signed the Agreement on the Supply of Naval Equipment and Technical Assistance to China in Warship Manufacturing (referred to as the "June 4th Agreement"). Comrade Li Chunfu signed the agreement on behalf of the Chinese government.

The "June 4th Agreement" stipulates that the Soviet Union will transfer and manufacture six types of ships to China, including "613" submarines, which will be renamed "6603" (referred to as: 03 type submarines) after imitation. Western call this Soviet R-Class 633 submarines. On February 4, 1959, China and the Soviet Union signed the "Agreement on New Technical Assistance Provided by the Soviet Government to the Chinese Navy in Manufacture of Ships" (referred to as the "Twenty-four Agreement"), which stipulated that the Soviet Union shall transfer "for a fee" the right to build a medium-sized torpedo submarine (hereinafter referred to as type 033), provide drawings and materials, equipment and equipment, and dispatch experts to guide. From May 1959 to March 1961, China received Type 633 drawings from the Soviet Union in eight batches. In October 1961, the translation and copying of the drawings were completed, and the code was changed to Type 6633. In 1960, this type of boat began to be modified and localized in China. By 1967, it was basically completed, and it was named Model 033 and the export model ES5A.

After the signing of the Sino-Soviet "June 4th Agreement", the Soviet Union began to design R-class submarines. Equipment was shipped to China, and related technical materials and drawings were also in place. In order to allow China to build R-class submarines, the Soviet Union also sent a large number of technical experts to China to guide the construction. All the work was carried out in an intensive and orderly manner, and the construction of the first boat was started after all the equipment was in place.

However, changes in the current situation are often unpredictable. In the 1960s, China and the Soviet Union had huge differences in some international political issues and ideology, which caused the Sino-Soviet relations to deteriorate sharply. The Soviet Union stopped all assistance, a large number of equipment procurement projects of the "June 4th Agreement" were unilaterally suspended by the Soviet Union, the supply of follow-up equipment and equipment was also interrupted, and all technical experts assisting China were withdrawn, which seriously affected the construction of R-class submarines. The construction of the first boat was basically at a standstill.




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Page last modified: 25-12-2019 18:42:37 ZULU