China’s latest nuclear submarine design appear to include a shelter capable of holding a miniature submarine for special operations forces (SOF) not unlike vehicles used to deliver Navy SEALs to shore from U.S. nuclear attack boats, according to an image in wide circulation in Chinese online networks.
The Chinese boat — a Type-93T or Shang-class nuclear attack submarine — features a hangar for the SOF submersible that would allow People’s Liberation Army troops to discrete deployment much like U.S. forces, according to a translation of a March 17 story in the state-run Reference News.
The image was first reported in English by Jane’s Defence Weekly on Tuesday.
Reference News said unlike hangars for U.S. SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV), the hangar on the improved Shang-class attack boat could only accommodate the first two-thirds of the vehicle so “it enters [the] dock space as simple as an ink pen cap.”
The description implies some limitations on the capability.
“Consequently, as transfer of personnel to the SDV cannot easily be achieved with the submarine dived, the graphic shows SF personnel being transferred to the submarine by helicopter,” read the Jane’s report.
The Chinese report on the delivery vehicle follow a consistent trend in Chinese ship design, according U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World author Eric Wertheim.
“It shows that they are really looking at Western designs and take lessons learned and look at how we use our subs and incorporate some those features into their own,” he told USNI News on Wednesday.