During the Cold War, 133 Soviet-originated "Romeo-class" attack submarines were completed and eventually operated by the likes of the Soviet Union itself, China (as the "Type 033"), North Korea and other Soviet-aligned nations/states. For the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China, this design was evolved to form the basis for an improved version becoming the "Type 035". This fleet addition ultimately totaled twenty-three boats consisting of the base Type 035 model and the subsequent Type 035A, Type 035G, and Type 035B design standards (as well as export designations). The class and subclasses arrived in 1974, 1982, 1990 and 2000, respectively, forming a considerable portion of Chinese undersea prowess for a time.
About fifteen Ming-class boats remain in service as of this writing (2019).
The Wuhan Ship Development and Design Institute was arranged to handle design, development, and construction of an indigenous Chinese underwater force and this initiative directly resulted in the arrival of the Type 035, also known as the "Ming-class". Two boats were built to the "Improved Romeo" standard during the middle part of the 1970s and, from this work, further improvements were brought online that resulted in the Type 035A - which appeared in the early part of the 1980s. Four boats were produced to this revised standard with the last examples commissioned in 1990.
The newer Type 035G models, totaling twelve boats in all, arrived during the 1990s and improved in areas of crew comfort, operating systems, and stealth (one was lost after mechanical failure while on exercise in April of 2003, costing the lives of seventy crewmen). The series was then modernized through the Type 035B which added a revised sail as well as changes to the hull and support for missile-launching from its torpedo tubes. These became four (or five depending on sources) examples added in 2000 and represent the most modern version of this Chinese submarine design.
The Type 035 and Type 035A models were offered for export under the "ES5C' designation and later joined by the improved "ES5D" (based in the ES5C with added anti-ship missile capability). The "ES5E" became the export offering of the Type 035G and the "ES5F" differed by its sonar fit.
To date, the Type 035 has only interested a few foreign parties with the only notable commitment being made by Bangladesh which contracted for two Type 053G boats. The duo was delivered in November of 2016 and commissioned during March of the following year under the names of BNS Nabajatra (S161) and BNS Joyjatra (S162).
The series sports a conventional submarine design arrangement with a mid-set sail, tapered aft-hull section and cruciform tailplane arrangement. The nosecone is blunt and the dive planes are positioned along the upper sides of the hull. The sail has a stepped leading edge and raised conning tower while also being home to the various scopes, sensors, and communication masts available to the crew. Displacement reaches 1,600 tons while surfaced and 2,100 when submerged. Power is from 2 x Type E390ZC-1 marine diesels outputting 5,200 horsepower and driving two shafts astern. The crew numbers around 57 personnel and armament centers on 6 x 533mm forward and 2 x 533mm aft-facing torpedo tubes. The boat can carry up to 16 torpedo reloads or 32 naval mines as needed.
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