Jeffrey LewisType 094 or Jin-Class SSBN Spotted

Hans Kristensen is getting a solid, well-deserved round of credit for spotting China’s new ballistic missile subarmine—the Jin class or Type 094 SSBN—sitting along side a dock in Google Earth.

(Here is a .kmz file)

It looks like a positive id, based not just on the size (130 m in length), but also this picture (right).

If you look carefully, photograph and satellite image have a similar looking building with a red roof against a hillside.

Same sub, same place.

Although the arrival of the Jin submarine is no surprise—the image is from 2006 and the intelligence community has been providing regular updates of a fashion—Hans’ eagle eye provides an excellent opportunity for a series of posts that I’ve been considering for a while: whether China will put its deterrent to sea, how capable the 094 will be, and what that means for US strategic policy.


  1. hallo84 (History)

    I don’t think this is Jin but rather an improved Xia model. This ship looks like an extended Xia with a modified tower without the curved top.

    The 093 Shang class SSN attack submarine is recently declassified and shown at the China People’s Revolution Military Museum for the special occasion of celebration for the 80th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army. The 093 is different form this picture and more closely inline with LA class.

    Since 092 Xia is based on the extension 091 Han model and similarly, I think it is fair to assume 094 Jin is based on the extension of 093 Shang. Thus this may not be the 094 but rather the improved Xia class(i.e. the elusive second ship of the class)

  2. Rip (History)

    Ground perspective photo printed in reverse.

  3. johnwbragg (History)

    Why couldn’t the 094 be a follow-on to the 092 instead of the 093?

    China’s programs are pretty opaque—how do we know that the 094 is a SSBN version of the 093 template, and not an updated, improved 092 SSBN?

  4. Stephen Young (History)

    Interesting! Weird track back too. Internet Archive has pages that seem to indicate the ground photo seems to dates from at least 2004 – see:

    That is based on the “Last Updated” date for the 094, but the “oldest” archive page, from Jan 17, 2007, has the “Last Updated” as 8/2/06, while the rest are dated 12/3/04.

    The current page seems to confirm the location (“near Dalian”) but that could be rebound from Hans?

  5. hallo84 (History)

    “China’s programs are pretty opaque—how do we know that the 094 is a SSBN version of the 093 template, and not an updated, improved 092 SSBN?”

    Well from experience we know that what you suggest can’t be true. In PLA Navy a similar class is never given a new designation unless there are significant differences from the original version.

    If this is an improved Xia it is customary for it to be named 092G. (G for Gai which mean modified)

    There are many examples to illustrate.As we see that the original Song class with steeped conning tower is named 039 while the new one with a lengthened body, acoustic tiles and a one piece tower is named 039G. Same thing with the 035G Ming class and 033G Wuhan Class.

    The 094 must truly be different from 092 to warrant a new designation from PLA Navy. It is only my assumption that 094 is based on the 093. I could very well be wrong.

  6. None (History)

    Why do I get the feeling that the chinese SSBN program is intended to produce ‘clay pigeons’ that have a very limited purpose: namely to divert attention and forces away from their real forces.

    These boats are vulnerable, noisy, and relatively easy to track and destroy should they ever venture outside of their home port. What the PRC can be certain of is that assets from Japan, Taiwan, S. Korea, the US and Australia are all engaged in tracking their SSBNs so they can be destroyed within the first minutes of conflict breaking out at the same time as their land based nuclear deterrent is destroyed. Thus, these boats almost certainly are not intended to be the primary bearer / vehicle for the sea based deterrent.

    Furthermore, it is not clear that China has fielded a foolproof communications system with them on the high seas. So even if the SSBNs can cruise undetected, how is Beijing going to issue a command to them in a timely manner?

    There is one unpleasant workaround this weakness: SSBNs could operated with a ‘launch on loss of contact’ mode, which raises another series of issues about precisely how dangerous the ‘hair trigger’ is and the consequences of a ‘decapitation’ strike.

    Could it be that there is another nuclear deterrent out there? A real force that is under deep cover with autonomous operation capabilities?

    Following historical chinese thinking, such a deterrent could be placed on container ships, bulk carriers, diesel submarines, commercial cargo aircraft (with the capability to drop the capsule and air launch the ICBM), and many other not obvious platforms.

    Some research and analysis of these options would be most interesting.