A nuclear submarine in the port of Dalian in northern China has suffered an accident and is leaking radiation, according to a story that appears to have originally been carried on the Boxun.com site, and then picked up by a former Japanese fighter pilot-turned-blogger.
‘The area is strictly closed off by the Chinese military, and the situation is said to be very dangerous,’ Mamoru Sato wrote in Japanese of the alleged July 29 incident.
As with all news stories about Chinese military developments, the account should certainly be read with a healthy dose of scepticism. As of August 1, no major media had reported on the alleged accident.
Of course, if true the report would be trouble for the Chinese navy. The People’s Liberation Army Navy's first aircraft carrier, the former Soviet Varyag, is fitting out in Dalian ahead of her first cruise, possibly scheduled for some time this year. Just last week, the PLAN officially discussed the carrier for the first time.
China’s submarine fleet, numbering around 50 diesel-electric boats and another 10 or so nuclear vessels, is on average old and out-moded, despite a surge in production in the last decade.
The nuclear designs are reportedly highly unreliable. The PLAN’s only confirmed nuclear ballistic missile submarine, the 33-year-old Type 092, has apparently never sailed on an operational deterrence cruise. A follow-on Type 094 class is reportedly under construction.