Largest Conventional Submarine

Largest Conventional Submarine

Largest Conventional Submarine : In 2005, construction for what would be the largest diesel-powered submarine in the world began at the Wuhan shipyard in China. Following 6 years of construction, the Type 032 Qing-class submarine sailed out to sea for the first time, ready to serve China’s PLA Navy.

This submarine displaces 6,628 tons while submerged and measures the length of an entire football field, allowing it to accommodate up to 200 crew members at once and can sustain a standard crew of 85 people for 30 days and nights on underwater missions.

It also features state of the art equipment and technology; it is China’s first submarine carrying escape pods for its crew members’ safety in emergency situations. 

Unlike the vast majority of other diesel-powered submarines, the Type 032 can fire both Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and anti-ship missiles that can wreak havoc against aircraft carriers, which are a centerpiece of modern navies. It’s even speculated that the Type 032 may have the capability to deploy undersea drones.

However, the sheer size of the Type 032 comes with its drawbacks. 

With a maximum speed of sixteen miles per hour, it is roughly half the speed of its counterparts. Its maximum dive depth is estimated to be around 200 meters—about half the depth that most modern submarines can achieve. These significant weaknesses severely limit the ability of the Type 032 to outmaneuver enemies in extended combat or escape when endangered.

Interestingly, China produced only a singular installation of the Type 032, which could mean that it is being used as a platform for testing new technology and weapons systems rather than as a combat sub. Also supporting this theory is the fact that it is much cheaper to produce than nuclear-powered submarines while being able to test similar weaponry. 

The 032 had a price estimated at north of $2 billion dollars, however, an actual price tag is nearly impossible to come by. 

The 032 completed sea trials and was put into service in 2012 with missile drills occuring in 2013. It is slow however, cruising at 16 miles per hour. 

No matter what its purpose will be, the Type 032 is an impressive weapon that China’s enemies should keep an eye on.

Written by Andrew Fu

Sources:

Type 032 Qing-class test submarine (globalsecurity.org)

The Only One: Meet China’s Singular Qing-Class Nuclear Missile Submarine | The National Interest

Supercavitating Submarines : A New Perspective on Marine Travel! (rebellionresearch.com)