The Han was the first nuclear-powered submarine designed and built by the People's Liberation Army - Navy (PLAN) of China. The Han was an original design by the Chinese Navy that used the "Albacore" hull SSN outline with the diving planes being mounted high and forward on the sail. The Albacore shape is shorter and fatter than earlier boats using conventional model patterns that were longer and thinner but still continued to be deployed at the time. The Han used a single shaft propeller, a major stealth upgrade for the PLAN who, until that time, purchased and used ex-Soviet diesel-electric submarines utilizing twin shaft propellers.
The specifications displayed below are for the first two boats placed in service - #401 in 1974, and #402 in 1980. The remaining three boats #403 in 1984, #404 in 1988 and #405 entered service in 1991 and all served in the North Sea until at least 2002. The last three launched had upgrades that included more advanced modernized equipment and weapons and was increased in length by 26' 3".
In October 1994 the USS Kitty Hawk was on station in the Yellow Sea with her battle group. One of her S-3 Viking patrol aircraft detected a Han-class boat shadowing the carrier from 450 nm away at periscope depth in international waters. The submarine closed to within 20 nm before she turned away. It was obvious the PLAN wanted the sub to be seen by CV-63 Kitty Hawk as a notice to the world's most powerful navy that a new player had entered the Asia-Pacific theater.
The Chinese Navy has been growing in force and capability ever since - driving a new Asian arms race in the region and drawing the attention of Washington.
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