CONTENT PREVIEW
Military Capabilities

China docks second SSK at Malaysian submarine base

13 September 2017

Key Points

  • A second Chinese submarine has conducted a stopover in Malaysia
  • Besides signalling increasingly cordial defence relations between Beijing and Putrajaya, deployment indicates that China is progressively increasing the operational reach of its submarines

Dimensions of a PLAN submarine docked at Sepanggar, Sabah in September 2017 indicate that the boat is either a Song or Yuan-class diesel-electric boat. A platform similar to the latter is seen here in a file image. (Via Yihong Chang)Dimensions of a PLAN submarine docked at Sepanggar, Sabah in September 2017 indicate that the boat is either a Song or Yuan-class diesel-electric boat. A platform similar to the latter is seen here in a file image. (Via Yihong Chang)

In a sign of deepening defence relationships between two South China Sea claimant states, China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has undertaken a second known docking of a submarine in Malaysia.

The visit took place between 8–11 September at the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN) submarine base in Teluk Sepanggar, East Malaysia. In early 2017, the PLAN made an inaugural deployment of its submarine to the same naval base.

Details of the latest visit have since been corroborated by Jane's with multiple sources that are aware of the docking. Although these did not provide the name of the submarine, physical descriptions – including dimensions – of the platform provided to Jane's suggest that it is either a Yuan (Type 039A/B)-class or Song (Type 039)-class diesel-electric boat (SSK).

The submarine, which features a teardrop-shaped hull, was reportedly escorted by a PLAN surface ship with the pennant number 862, with Jane's Fighting Ships identifying this as the Dajiang (Type 925)-class submarine support and salvage ship Chongmingdao . The two ships are believed to be on a return voyage to China after conducting escort missions in the Gulf of Aden.

According to Jane's Fighting Ships , the Yuan class features an overall length of 77.2 m, an overall beam of 8.4 m, and a hull draught of 6.7 m. The platform displaces approximately 2,700 tons when surfaced, and 3,600 tons when submerged.

The boat is equipped with six 533 mm tubes that are capable of launching a variety of anti-ship missiles, such as submarine-launched variants of the YJ-82, and heavyweight torpedoes, such as the Yu-6.

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