Possible Fatal Accident Aboard Chinese Navy Nuclear Submarine

Possible Fatal Accident Aboard Chinese Navy Nuclear Submarine

Flag China Since August 22 there have been persistent rumors that a Chinese Navy (PLAN) nuclear submarine experienced a serious accident. They were first widely circulated on certain Chinese language social media. It has since been reported in Taiwanese media and there has been much wild speculation. However the rumor hasn't gone away, notably in Chinese sources.

Unfortunately I played an unintended role in this. The noise reached a level on August 22 that I tweeted about it in the hope of bringing more information to the surface. My tweet contained clear caveats. Despite this it was picked up by Taiwanese and other non-English language press and misrepresented to 'prove' that the incident occurred. It became a news story for a few days.

These rumors are still unconfirmed and should not be treated as fact. However, in case other information subsequently comes to light, it is worth recording them for reference. Where there is smoke, sometimes there is fire.

Treat with Caution: Unverified Rumors

Shang Class Submarine

Early Version Of Story, August 22

The initial telling of the story, reported by 'Lude Media', stated:

"Briefing: At 8:12 a.m. on August 21, 417 was carrying out the submerged survey operation assessment task under loading. The mechanical failure was caught by the anchor chain, which caused the cabin to depressurize and float slowly. It coincided with the thunderstorm in Lianyungang, and the rescue was trapped. After 6 hours of uninterrupted rescue, it surfaced at 14:04 on August 21, and the oxygen in the ship was exhausted, resulting in the sacrifice of 22 officers, 7 students, 9 non-commissioned officers and 17 soldiers who participated in the test mission. The details are still under investigation, and the next report will be at 10:15 on August 22.

This is a report to Xi Jinping and the Central Military Commission."

There are several aspects which raise questions in this account. Two obvious question marks are 1) Nuclear subs don’t normally run out of air for months, they can make it 2) Nuclear boats have a lot of power, anchor chain shouldn’t be fatal. The small crew is also worth noting as unusual, but not out of the question.

However, combined with other sources for these rumors, it was at least an indication that something took place. Media stories in Taiwan generally repeated this version.

Additional Leads

One version of the rumor I was told involved the submarine having the accident near Lian Yun Gang, south of Qingdao. It was said that the submarine may have pulled in to Lian Yun Gang after the incident. However, satellite image analysis by Satim Inc did not detect the submarine and that detail can be treated as unreliable.

CLICK to Enlarge. Analysis of Radar satellite (SAR) imagery by Satim Inc shows that no submarines were present at Lian Yun Gang on August 24. If they were, Satim's artificial intelligence would have detected them and identified the class.

However, the rumor then suggested that the submarine returned to Qingdao, which is completely plausible. Qingdao is a major naval base.

New details suggested that it was a malfunction with the air purification / sterilizing system. Or that it was mistakenly turned on, suffocating the entire crew.

New Version, August 28

On August 28, the China Front blog posted an article titled "All officers and soldiers of China's No. 417 (Long March 14) Type 093 attack nuclear submarine died". It references the rumors and adds " After verification by the editor, the news is very likely to be true." I am posting an abridged translation here for future reference:

Type 093 attack nuclear submarine that had an accident in the Yellow Sea had an accident when it was performing tests and training tasks. 22 nuclear submarine captain-level seed officers were among the 55 people including those died.

The submarine sent out an encrypted and automatic distress signal, and that the navies and maritime departments of all surrounding countries will have received the signal. That is to say, "they" knew the overall situation before Xi Jinping who was in South Africa.

The blog speculates that this explains the reason why Xi Jinping suddenly left the speech venue of the summit in South Africa for several hours and the Minister of Commerce and Labor, Wang Wenqing, read the speech on his behalf.

Rumors were suppressed. The spokespersons of the Navy and the Ministry of National Defense did not refute the rumors, and the military website and military newspapers remained silent.

The authorities deny or cover up, but the relatives and relatives of the officers and soldiers who died have already chilled the hearts of colleagues, friends and insiders.

The nuclear submarine did not sink, but all the people on board died.

The article questions the "hydrogen sulfide poisoning" rumors.

It lists some achievements of some of the 22 officers who died. he submarine's captain, Xue Yongpeng, is from Shaanxi. He is a full-training and assessment examiner for naval nuclear submarines, and is the highest-ranking examiner. One was awarded a Ph.D. by the School of Oceanography of the University of Washington in 2010. Another, Senior Colonel He Xianzhong was captain of 326 submarine of the 32nd Submarine Detachment of the South China Sea Fleet (PLA 92474 Unit), and commander of the Haikou Garrison District. There are also three double captains, frigates and submarines.

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