China Needs Single-Hulled Submarines: Chinese Expert

The single-hull submarine is much more suitable for the combat environment China faces today than the double-hull submarines currently used by the PLA Navy, said Ma Ling, an expert in submarine development.

PLA Navy Type 094 double-hull Submarine
PLA Navy Type 094 double-hull Submarine

The double-hull submarine's numerous ballast chambers make it harder to sink than its single-hulled cousin. In addition, the double-hull can endure more torpedo strikes, according to Ma. China has moved in this direction when making purchases or constructing to ensure the survival of its submarine fleet. The double-hull however, may not end up giving PLA Navy any measurable advantage when operating in the Far East.
As Ma said, the Yellow and East China Seas are both too shallow for larger double-hull submarines to hide from enemy attack. Also, the ballast chambers leave no space to install noise reduction equipment, making them far easier to detect. They are only suitable for operation in some parts of the First Island Chain, extending from Alaska to the Philippines.

The PLA Navy should consider introducing or building more single-hull variants, said Ma. It is a reform that China must take because double-hull submarines can no longer stand up to anti-submarine warfare launched by the US Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force together with aircraft, warships, submarines and sonar networks. Ma said the reform will be difficult for the PLA Navy, but cannot be avoided.


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