First Glimpse Of China's Nuclear Submarine Fleet

Tyler Durden's picture

Following Japan's scrambling of fighter jets for the 3rd day in a row, China has revealed that its first fleet of nuclear submarines has started sea patrols, in the latest sign of its military’s growing confidence which has raised concerns in the region. As The FT reports, Xinhua, China's official news agency, released photographs of what appeared to be Xia-class vessels – China’s first generation of nuclear-armed submarines, which are several decades old – saying they were being “declassified” for the first time, adding with supremely colorful language that, the subs would "gallop to the depths of the ocean, serving as mysterious forces igniting the sound of thunder in the deep sea", and be an "assassin’s mace that would make adversaries tremble".



Via The FT,



While the submarines displayed on Sunday were the older generation of nuclear vessels that are part of China’s northern fleet – and not the more advanced Jin-class based at the southern Chinese island of Hainan – the display in the domestic media nonetheless reflects the Chinese military’s growing confidence.


It is still the first time that the Xia class has been discussed in such detail in China’s state-run media,” said Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. “As China’s military modernisation continues to advance, the PLA has become more willing to discuss its capabilities.”




In recent years, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has become increasingly active in the Pacific, particularly in staking Chinese claims to disputed maritime territory in the South China Sea.


Chinese ships and aircraft have also become more aggressive in challenging Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands – which China calls the Diaoyu – in the East China Sea. Japan has administered the uninhabited group for decades, but China and Taiwan both claim sovereignty.

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johngaltfla's picture

The good news is they haven't been spotted off the coast of California yet.


The bad news is the diesel electrics apparently have already demonstrated their SLBM capbailities....

Jam Akin's picture

Screw this - have enough to worry about much closer to home.

markmotive's picture

With 2 superpowers there were at least 9 times the world nearly entered nuclear war.

With 3 I'd expect the worst.

Manthong's picture

I might have not been seeing things right, but it looks like that guy at 0:38 was yelling into a metal tube that looked like the exhaust on my old Firebird.

.. and I’ve never served on a sub but my guess is that if something pops a hole in the hull, it won’t be small, it’s time to close some hatches and it’s lights out for anybody left in the in the compartment.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Rumor has it that these first gen Chinese nuclear subs are as loud as a Caterpillar 797F, and they have approximately the same drag coefficient.

Hey, that reminds me, let's cue those year old videos of those Chinese "stealth" fighter jets...

Pure Evil's picture

Gawd, even the North Koreans put out better propaganda videos than that.

MeMadMax's picture

Cheap russian sub copies, of old russian subs no less...


China does not fail to surprise >_>

Hooter Shaker's picture

Made in China.  It will be broke in a couple weeks.  I hope the "brother that can swallow the sea" is on the sub...

mjcOH1's picture

"gallop to the depths of the ocean, serving as mysterious forces igniting the sound of thunder in the deep sea", and be an "assassin’s mace that would make adversaries tremble".

They go down. They usually come up, crew alive or not. Impressive shit.

lewy14's picture

China outsourcing agit-prop content creation to North Korea.

Sad jobless Chinese agit-prop content peeps are sad.

[Will soon be working for BuzzFeed.]

akak's picture

"Chinese Citizenism submarine boatings of make strong anti-running dog imperialist lackies up the flee in the fronting of People's Liberation force of not weak defend glorious Homeland for parangongs of blobbing-up US 'american' eternal nature of consumptionalisticalism and farming the weak and extorting the poor.  Tremblings of fears of them are shaking to depth of it.  The Chinese Citizenism throating of the threats is not of idle kind, make certain it is that and definitely the vigorous something and even more."

New American Revolution's picture

That's great, love it. well said... funny, thanks.

laomei's picture

That's the language you get if you plug it into say, google translate while having no idea what you're looking at. Seeing as the article was written by a pair with no background in Chinese, you shouldn't be surprised.

akak's picture

Actually, it read much more lucidly than most of the product manuals for Chinese-made products that I have ever seen.

In fact, to be honest, I have struggled through so many translations from Chinese that read in such a florid, horribly convoluted, quasi-poetic and rather cryptic manner that I wonder if there is not some truly fundamental difference(s) in the thought process itself between Chinese and most Western (European) languages.  And that is not even taking into account the 'citizenism' ramblings of our dear friend AnAnonymous here.

Bro of the Sorrowful Figure's picture

you are absolutely right in your assessment. there is indeed a fundametal difference in the way that the thought processes behind chinese and english work. ive lived in china for 2 years and studied the god awful language for 6. it took me 3 years to realize you have to completely drop your knowledge of how language works to learn chinese. even after all that time, my colleagues tell me that my chinese is good, but it sounds like im speaking english because of the way i express ideas. im still learning how to say simple things that ive been saying the english way for years. perfect example is today. my colleague asked me how to say ?? (jieji)in english. i had no idea what that meant until she wrote it down. it translates roughly as "pick someone up from the airport", but the first character can mean: receive/answer/meet/connect/join/catch, and the second can mean machine/engine/opportunity/airplane/pivot/organic. you get the idea. i would have said that in a complete sentence in chinese, whereas she expressed it in two words. it's a LOT of fun if you want to start studying now. should only take 8-10 years to be fluent.


Bro of the Sorrowful Figure's picture

ps i speak pretty damned good french and that only took two years of living in france. if you're lookng to learn a second language without constantly wanting to kill yourself stick to your own neighborhood.

lewy14's picture

OK cool... when I write my Great American Sci Fi novel I'm going to put in a bit about administering precision electro-shocks to basically clear and reboot Broka's area - easiest way to learn Chinese is to forget English? Ok then, sounds like a plan...

Ying-Yang's picture

I still shake my head when shopping for an auto part in Texas and the label says...

Hecho en China


SamAdams's picture


The Red's agency quote almost sounds like an admission of guilt.  Do you remember the 3/11/11 tsunami that wiped out a portion of Japan?  China has been in bed with the Intl Bankers for a very long time.  Communist leaders, i.e. Trotsky & Mao, have been sponsored by said bankers.  Indeed, CFR sponsored think tanks say China's authoritarian society is the perfect model.  Our eyes observe the emigration of gold now that the USA has been bled dry and made weak.  Just something to consider when taking into account the big picture. 

Some key words for you:  Yale in China, The Red Symphony

mjcOH1's picture

"Hecho en China


means you don't speak the national language. slacker.

laomei's picture

jieji as oppossed to songji.  It's really common for common phrases to be condensed to 2 characters for simplicity.  zhu fang dai kuan becomes fang dai.  Or why zhi da dian ti becomes zhi ti.  Being concise is rather valued in China.  It's also why Escalator/Elevator/Inclinator is just called dianti by basically everyone, it's used to change floors, so why get fussy about it?  This is the land of "chabuduo".  As long as the meaning is expressed and understood, that's all that matters.  It's also probably why most people kinda suck at specific terminology for things, albeit, 9 times out of 10, once you see it, it makes perfect fucking sense... usually to a point where you want to smack yourself for not realizing you could have probably just guessed it.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

laomei, thank you for your fascinating explanations in your comments here.

The explanation of the differences being based not on a different manner of thinking but on the cultural/historical/mythical roots of the idioms makes total sense.

Bro of the Sorrowful Figure's picture

right, and that's my biggest problem. i can often understand what someone means but recalling how to say things that have been shortened later on proves challenging. i get fussy because when you strive for so long to master something and there are endless hurdles at every level of learning, it can make even the most patient of people temperamental.

Element's picture

Yup, google-translate barely works with chinese documents ... seems to imply major differences in thought structure.

laomei's picture

Not really.  I am a native english speaker and have fluent Mandarin.  Google translate fails whenever it hits chengyu, or slang of any sort.  When they are talking about "assassins mace" this is what they are referring to.'s_Mace

In other words, it's an ace in the hole, a silver bullet, etc.  The entire point of having boomers is, so in a time of absolute crisis, you can strike back and strike back hard, as well as ending the nuclear blackmail which the US ever so loves to toss around.  It's more "implied" now, but when this unit was launched, it was bandied about like it was nothing.  It's a weapon, by which, China has the potential to strike a crippling blow against a superior foe.  If it was meant to be an English article, it would be something along the lines of

"This brave crew of patriots and heroes, drilling tirelessly to be nation's ever-ready trump card.  Prowling the deep and laying in wait to unleash the fires of hell while hoping that day never comes".

Furthermore you must see what a Chinese mace is compared to a western mace.  It's a sword breaker which can also be used on heavy armor.  Rulers would carry them as a sign of "justice" and defense.  You use it to break the sword of your attacker, leaving them at your mercy, you can also just whack them over the head with it.

So why Sha and not Sa? Sa is kind of useless for something as important as nukes.  It says it's a last-option-on-the-table, we'll stop you but show mercy, we'll only use it if we really have to.  That's weak, and for a boomer it makes no sense, as Sa would be out in the open.  Sha on the other hand, is stating concealment and that it is a very deadly weapon that can be used at will, although the underlying purpose IS defensive in nature, but it CAN be used offensively. 

So, boiling it all down, shashoujian is applicable to unconventional, asymmetric weapons of war.  Weapons which neutralize the superiority of the enemy and change the tide of war.  And in modern usage it's basically used the same as "trump card" for just about anything.


Back to the original comment though.  It's not "major differences in thought structure", it's references to idioms and stories that go back thousands of years, and that's something that google honestly really sucks at.

Chump's picture

Thanks for your comments here.

Element's picture

Thank you for explaining that, reading Chinese documents is quite a verbal maze - and for explaining the mace tactic.

I hope those weapons are never used, by anyone, cheers.

thestarl's picture

Would'nt get me on one of those tubs

chump666's picture

America could flatten the Chinese fleet in days.  It's aimed at Japan, Obama won't make the play as Putin will shift a sh*load of his ships to assist China.  Sooner or later China will take the Islands.  Japan will do something stupid and fire on a Chinese ship = skirmish.


johngaltfla's picture

You mean the same Chinese fleet that popped a diesel electric sub up to the surface in the South China Sea several years ago a few thousand yards away from one of our aircraft carriers and wasn't detected until it surfaced? Only a fool understimates their enemy...

y3maxx's picture

...Right down the line, America's Armed Forces have a 000 Batting Average record....with only one "Win" while on their lonesome...Grenada.

Bear's picture

Why would they want the irradiated waters of Cali when they can dive and frolic in the waters of Ohau

Dr. Destructo's picture

Looks like a shot across the bow for America.

Element's picture



"The bad news is the diesel electrics apparently have already demonstrated their SLBM capabilities"

Complete nonsense, they don't have anything like a diesel SLBM capability (and they certainly would not want it).

China has had nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered and fully operational blue water subs, armed with ballistic missiles, for decades.

How this can be considered a revelation I really don't know.

The Chinese have not revealed anything that's not been known about, for a very long time. The Chinese are making propaganda videos here, designed for the usual psychological effect, and threat-making ... and it worked.


SgtShaftoe's picture

Are you sure they haven't been spotted? Remember this:

People who are in the know think it was a warning that the .gov tried to white wash.

Running On Bingo Fuel's picture

Might need a Shower Party.



SheepDog-One's picture

I feel sorry for those poor bastards riding around in those nuclear antiques. 

Dr. Engali's picture

I'm sure we probably gave them the technology so they would buy more of our debt for those lovely long lasting Chinese trinkets.

old naughty's picture

Dr., actually it went all the way back to "the beginning"...


Mentaliusanything's picture

Maybe it was those that just Blew up a Syrin Air force base Via a missile attack!

Theos's picture

uhhhh.... ok?

Murf_DaSurf's picture



Hey! Maybe they can torpedo a Google Barge!?

lolmao500's picture

What a load of crap. China's boomers are a joke. They don't even carry real nukes... since the leadership don't trust them.

CharmaChameleon's picture

"Nuclear Submarine Fleet" is a far, far cry from "Nuclear Powered Submarine Fleet".


YHC-FTSE's picture

Those are really ancient subs that should have been decommissioned decades ago. Even newer designs have been "mothballed" (parked and abandoned) by the Russians and are currently leaking radiation all over Murmansk.

It's pretty clear the islands were taken by the Japanese during their last invasion and should have been given back at the end of WWII, so all that crap about China's aggressive challenges is a bit ironic.

chump666's picture

China has kick-ass missile systems but a very inexperienced navy v's Japan long history with navy warfare.  The concern is Japan militarizing like no tomorrow.  China has outdated junk.  I have no love for the commie crackpots in China, but at the same time I wouldn't f*ck with them.  China could strike Japanese navy bases from China/Nth Korea

Evil Franklin's picture

They were decommisioned.  Then the Chinese bought them.

Element's picture

It's about preventing China holding forward Island territories that could give China a monitoring capability that it currently does not have. Their engineers can flatten the mountains of those islands and build an airbase and deep port, with sensor and comms relays, with the ability to develop and operate a deep offshore hydrophone network clear of the noise of the Chinese littoral. Without oceanic Islands they'll not get that, which puts them at a major knowledge disadvantage, even close to China.

akak's picture

And who said the Chinese no longer sail junks?