The nuclear submarines of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy have all been constructed at Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Company Limited (BSHIC) at Huludao.
Recent photos of Huludao facilities revealed some parts, possibly of a new submarine. The width of these parts is almost 16.5 m, suggesting the probable beam of the new submarine is more than 16.5 m. It is assessed that this new submarine which possibly is the new nuclear submarine of Type 96 which is rumored to have 24x Julang 3 or JL 3 ballistic missiles with an estimated range between 8,000 km to 12,000 km. A 16.5 m beam with approximately 4 m of hump would easily accommodate every Dong Feng or DF missile in China’s nuclear ballistic missiles inventory.
The Huludao facility felt the need for additional space when it started construction of Type 94 Jin-class submarines some time in 2005. The new facility on the Eastern side of Bohai shipyard started construction in mid-2015, and became visible and clear by mid-2016.
The size of BSHIC Huludao hall is 285 m x 130 m with more than 40,000 sq m area. The height is almost double the previous halls in that location. It has three bays with large overhead double girder magnet gantry cranes fitted it, which could easily shift/move submarine modules. The width of girders at the top of gantries is 9 m, suggesting they could lift very heavy loads.
There is another hall of 200 m x 170 m being constructed to the north of this assembly hall. This probably will produce modules for submarines. It has five bays, two of which are smaller than others. Both the halls have traverser rails in front for transfer of modules from one hall to the other.
This new assembly hall could possibly construct six nuclear submarines at any given time. It is assessed that the new submarine production facility constructed at Huludao will enhance the speed of the Chinese nuclear submarine production by at least six times.
China’s nuclear submarines or SSN count varies from 11 to 13 with four Type 91 Han-class (one not active) and 8 to 10 Type 93 Shang-class variants. The nuclear ballistic missiles carrying submarines or SSBN count is at least 7, with one Type 92 Xia-class and rest Type 94 Jin-class.