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Type 091 Han-class Program

Work started on the Type 09-1 Han class nuclear powered attack submarine in the late 1950s, though the first unit was not completed until 1974. All five units of this class were initially deployed with the North Sea Fleet, and according to some reports they were homeported at Lushan.

Only nuclear submarines could contain world hegemonism. Therefore, China must develop its own nuclear submarine. In June 1958 Marshal Nie Rongzhen immediately invited Su Zhenhua, the political commissar of the Chinese Navy, Luo Yanchu, the deputy commander of the Navy, Zhang Jinfu, then vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zhang Liankui, deputy director of the Ministry of Machinery, and Liu Jie, then vice minister of the second machine department. Qian Xuesen, dean of the Fifth Research Institute of the Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China, and Wang Hao, deputy dean of the Ministry of National Defense, and the heads of relevant business departments, discussed the development and production of China's nuclear submarines.

This was an extremely confidential meeting and the first meeting of a Chinese nuclear submarine. At the meeting, everyone discussed the development of China's nuclear submarines and reached consensus on the development principles, progress, task division, organization leadership, and assembly plant construction. The meeting decided that Marshal Nie Rongzhen personally drafted a report on the development of missile atomic submarines in his own name.

On June 27, 1958, this report with the top secret was reported to the Central Department of the Communist Party of China. The core content is that "China's atomic reactor has begun to operate, and in the use of national defense, it should be arranged early. According to the existing strength. Considering the needs of national defense, in line with the principle of self-reliance, it is proposed to first design and prototype an atomic submarine capable of launching missiles. The first reader of this top secret report was Zhou Enlai, then Premier of the State Council of China.

The Chinese naval nuclear power program started in July 1958 when Mao Tse-Tung and the Central Military Commission gave approval to start the 09 submarine project. On July 28, 1958, the Central Military Commission of China stated in the "Resolution on Naval Construction" that the Navy should focus on the development of submarines and develop the necessary surface ships accordingly.

The Institute of Atomic Energy (IAE) started the 09 project by looking at information on the U.S. and Soviet submarine programs. Available information convinced them that a pressurized water reactor (PWR) based on the Russian icebreaker Lenin’s propulsion plant would be the best choice. It was also decided early on that a land-based prototype would be built first for testing and training. The IAE created the Reactor Research Section (RRS) and within a few months had recruited over 200 engineers and technicians to start designing the plant.

At the beginning of the development, based on the data of the Soviet 1800-ton class 641 submarine , the 2500-ton nuclear submarine was designed and designed, and then 5,000 tons were designed. On October 13, 1958, five scenarios were proposed, three of which were conventional line types and two of which were water droplet type. The nuclear power plant calculates three schemes of 34,000, 40,000 and 60,000 kilowatts. Finally, on this basis, the "1958 program" was produced. The design scheme is a water-drop line type nuclear submarine with a displacement of 3,000 tons, a reactor power of 180,000 kilowatts, a host power of 34,000 horsepower, a speed of 25 knots, a dive depth of 300 meters, and underwater missile launching.

On September 30, 1959, when Chinese scientists were full of confidence and made great efforts to prepare for the development of nuclear submarines, then the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Khrushchev visited Beijing to participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Khrushchev said: "The nuclear submarine technology is complicated. You can't do it. The Soviet Union has a nuclear submarine. You have it. We can organize the joint fleet." Because of the strict technical blockade imposed on foreign countries by China, Mao Zedong issued a call in October 1959: "Nuclear submarines will be brought out in 10,000 years!" From August 1960 to 1962, the Soviet Union withdrew all atomic energy experts from China. Although the work of nuclear submarines developed and designed by China itself was not affected by this, the atomic bomb research work that relied entirely on Soviet technology was dealt a fatal blow.

RRS personnel scrutinized foreign textbooks, reports and any other resources available to determine the specifications for the plant. The design was completed and approved by mid-1960. The Second Ministry of Machine Building was given control of dozens of factories that were capable of producing the specialized instruments, controls and major components required for a nuclear propulsion plant.

The project was severely affected by the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), the Cultural Revolution (1965-1975), and the Third Line movement – government-run economic and social transformation programs. These three movements resulted in major program delays, funding cuts, and the loss of talented engineers due to political issues.

During the period from 1958 through 1961, China suffered three consecutive years of natural disasters and policy mistakes. The economic construction is difficult. China had no strength to support both the atomic bombs and the nuclear submarines. The normal research work on nuclear submarines progressed slowly. By 1962, according to the needs of the domestic situation, the nuclear submarine project was temporarily "dismounted." On December 14, 1962, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to establish a special committee , and Premier Zhou Enlai was appointed as the director. Nie Rongzhen convened a meeting to study and, according to the situation at the time, proposed the principle of “shortening the front line, queuing the task, and ensuring the key points” for the national defense work. After comprehensive weighing, the development of atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs was placed frist, and other projects including nuclear submarines were curtailed.

Liu Huaqing, the dean of the Seventh Research Institute of the Ministry of National Defense, and Dai Runsheng, the political commissar, said: "In the long run, the development of nuclear submarines should not be dismantled. Otherwise, not only will economic losses be lost, but the technical team will also be lost, creating more difficulties." In March 1963, the Central Committee officially clarified that the development of nuclear submarines was temporarily “dismounted” and approved the technical strength to retain a small number of nuclear submarine research.

On March 14, 1965, the Second Machine Department and the Sixth Machine Department jointly wrote the "Report on the Establishment of a Nuclear Submarine General Study" to the Central Special Committee of the Chinese Central Committee with Zhou Enlai as the director. On March 20, 1965, Premier Zhou Enlai presided over the 11th meeting of the Central Committee to approve the launch of the nuclear submarine project. In 1966, the Sixth Machine Department established the 09 project (ie nuclear submarine engineering) office, and the vice president of the Seventh Research Institute of the Ministry of National Defense Chen Miming served as the director of the office.

The Chinese nuclear submarine project was first proposed by Marshal Nie Rongzhen, and the entire project was under the leadership of Premier Zhou Enlai. Premier Zhou is the director of the Central Special Committee. Under the Central Special Committee, there is a nuclear submarine project leading group. Under the leading group, there is a nuclear submarine engineering office. There are four professional groups under the office. The professional group is the following professional units: overall, power, equipment, Electronic department. Huang Xuhua is only a deputy chief engineer of the overall department.

In July 1965, according to the spirit of the 11th meeting of the Central Special Committee, after repeated argumentation, development of the submarine missiles that missile submarines must be equipped with was very complicated. The nuclear submarine itself and the key equipment supporting the missile had many technical problems, which were difficult and require more time to solve. Therefore, it was recommended to develop the nuclear submarine in two steps: first develop the anti-submarine torpedo nuclear submarine, second Step by step to develop a missile nuclear submarine. Plans were made to develop two nuclear-powered submarines, including a nuclear-powered attack-type nuclear submarine and a ballistic missile submarine modified on this basis.

The Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s dealt a major shock to the Chinese submarine force during its troubled adolescence. Due to its reliance on technically skilled personnel and foreign assistance, the Navy was much more vulnerable to this crusade against intellectuals and foreign influence than the dominant army. The troubled nuclear propulsion program was also affected by the resulting chaos.

In 1966, a lead designer [most Western accounts references him as "the" lead designer] for the PLAN's prospective nuclear submarines, Huang Xuhua, was tried and retried by mobs of Red Guards, who accused him of being an enemy agent; only the intervention of Premier Zhou Enlai saved him from serving a sentence raising pigs. Additionally, factional violence broke out during January 1967 at the nuclear fuel plant in Baotou, interrupting research on fuel rods for submarine reactors.

There is some disagreement over the precise status of Huang Xuhua at that time. On February 11, 2014, the awarding ceremony of “Impressed People in China 2013” was announced. Huang Xuhua, the second chief designer of China’s nuclear submarine, was on the list and was hailed as “the father of Chinese nuclear submarines”. In the 1960s, Huang Xuhua was only a deputy chief engineer of the overall department. In September 1979, in order to strengthen the technical summation and coordination of the nuclear submarine project, the National Defense Science and Technology Commission and the National Defense Office appointed Peng Shilu as the chief designer of the nuclear submarine engineering, Huang Weilu, Zhao Renxuan and Huang Xuhua as deputy chief designers. On March 19, 1983, Huang Xuhua took over as the chief designer of nuclear submarines, and the first chief designer, Peng Shilu, became a consultant. But this was 25 years since the first nuclear submarine was first established in 1958.

In February 1968, under the leadership of the National Defense Science and Technology Commission, the Nuclear Submarine Engineering Office was established to handle the coordinated leadership and management of nuclear submarines. Chen Miming was the director, Chen Shiqian and Li Haiting were deputy directors.

Despite these delays, the land-based prototype design was completed by 1967 and construction started in March 1968. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was required to participate in the construction effort in July 1968 to compensate for the disruptions caused by the Cultural Revolution, and the plant was completed in April 1970. The plant conducted full power operations in July 1970. The prototype was a success, and the basic design of the plant proved adequate. The infrastructure built up around Jiajiang, named the Southwest Reactor Engineering Research and Design Academy, or, First Academy, became China’s largest nuclear power industrial complex.

After the commencement of the nuclear submarine project, in order to organize and coordinate all aspects of work, the State Council and the Central Military Commission decided to establish a nuclear submarine project leading group in October 1969. The members remain unchanged and work under the leadership of the Central Committee. There were four professional groups under the Nuclear Submarine Engineering Office: General, Power, Armament, and Electronics.

On May 1, 1970, the onshore model reactor officially began trial operation. The test results showed that the project was excellent and had the conditions for the open test. On July 6, 1970, the nuclear submarine project leading group held a meeting and decided to change the start-up test time to July 18. At 2 o'clock on the morning of July 17, 1970, the onshore model reactor began to test and gradually increase the power. On July 26, the steam turbine generator began to generate electricity. This is the first time China used nuclear power to generate electricity.

On December 26, 1970, on the day of Mao Zedong’s 77th birthday, China's first torpedo attack type nuclear submarine was launched. There is a huge safflower on the bow of the boat. On the first horizontal rudder, the eight red flags are lined up, symbolizing the "August 1". Mao Zedong's portrait is hung above the submarine's podium. Around the dock, crowded with excited researchers and shipbuilders, holding up the "Red Book" and shouting.

At the same time, the submarine design progressed along with the development of the reactor plant. The layout of the submarine and its subsystems was determined by the use of a full-size wood and steel model used to test fit all the components. This slowed construction but avoided costly rework to the actual hull, and the reactor was in place by early 1971. In April 1971, the nuclear submarine entered the test phase of mooring (ie when the submarine was in the dock or dock mooring state). After each test is completed, the military representatives in the factory will accept the items on behalf of the Navy. On August 17, Zhou Enlai personally approved the nuclear submarine to start trials.

The submarine was able to get underway under nuclear power for the first time on August 23, 1971. Not surprisingly, many technical abnormalities occurred during sea trials, and it was not until 1974 that the submarine was deemed ready to join the fleet. In accordance with Zhou Enlai's instructions on the "phased" test, from 1971 to 1974, the nuclear submarine went to the sea in 26 stages, and nearly 200 tests were carried out. The reactor was operated for thousands of hours and the host operated hundreds of times. Hours, the cumulative range of more than 6,000 nautical miles, in the various tests to obtain tens of thousands of technical data, completed the first trial of China's first nuclear submarine trial mission, initially formulated the first "nuclear submarine training program."

On August 1, 1974, the Central Military Commission issued an order to name the nuclear submarine "Long March One". China's first nuclear submarine was formally incorporated into the battle sequence of the People's Navy. After the nuclear submarine 1701 was delivered to the Navy, it was piloted several times in Xiaoping Island. In 1975, it opened to the Qingdao 09 nuclear submarine base.




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Page last modified: 08-05-2019 18:04:44 ZULU