TAIPEI–Nuclear-powered submarines in mainland China’s navy are vulnerable to precision missile attacks because of the significant amount of time they spend at their bases, according to an article in the May edition of the Chinese-language Kanwa Defense Review. The report by the Toronto-based publication said the Chinese navy’s three main nuclear-powered submarines, the 11,500 tonne Type 094 with ballistic missile launching capabilities, and the 5,500 tonne Type 091 and 7,000 tonne Type 93 spent much of 2014 at their bases.
China’s most advanced Type 094 submarines were not ordered to maintain combat readiness and remained largely inactive.
While the Type 093 submarines put in more active duty hours than the Type 091, they were still more idle than the Russian and American submarine fleets, which are known to spend up to one-third of the year on active duty. Although well protected in subterranean bases in Qingdao and Hainan Island that are carved out of rocks, China’s nuclear submarines could be easily nullified by precision missile attacks aimed at collapsing the caves’ entrances, rendering them sitting ducks.