The United States should fear a potential submarine war with China, Wang Hongguang, retired deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, wrote in a commentary for the state-run Global Times on Aug. 11.
While admitting that the nuclear-powered attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines of the United States Navy have a longer range and faster speed than their Chinese counterparts, Wang said the PLA's submarines are better suited to fighting in littoral waters. He said US submarines have several major weaknesses that Chinese subs do not have. First, they are simply too large to conduct operations within the narrow First Island Chain of the Pacific, he said.
Compared to American submarines with displacement between 8,000 and 10,000 tons, Wang said it is much easier for 2,000-ton conventional PLA submarines to hide and evade the enemy. Wang said further that Chinese submarines employ the world's best air-independent propulsion system and can stay submerged for between 15 and 20 days. This is enough for them to travel 3,000 kilometers without being detected, he said.
Noting that a Chinese Type 039 Song-class submarine surfaced quietly nine miles away from the USS Kitty Hawk carrier in 2007, Wang said it is possible for the PLA Navy to do this again even in the central Pacific. If older boats like the Song-class submarine could do it, Wang said more advanced sumbarines such as the Type 094 Jin-class ballistic missile submarine can do it as well.