Jeffrey LewisChina Stuff Today

Not sure how much time I have to write … We have the Chinese SSBN event today at New America (at 12:15) and, more importantly, the Happy Hour at the Big Hunt at 6:00 pm.

Here is a challenge to readers: I took this image of the 094 and this ONI diagram to make a estimate of surfaced displacement.

I came up with around 4,000 tons. Readers? (Update: Okay, so I converted that into liquid tons — the answer should be much larger. Will recheck.)


  1. Karl Schenzig (History)

    Dear Mr. Lewis,

    The displacement can easily be double that, at 8000 tons. Compare with the Delta I, coming in at 7800 tons surfaced.

  2. Dylan

    You think it is smaller than Xia?? And the Han??

  3. Jian Feng (History)

    I’m sure that you guys will have a lot of fun, in addition to having lots of hypotheses and analyses. Although I hate to spoil the party, my point is that there is a danger of over-interpretation, which might be amplified n times in the upper echelon here in the US. The position of that 094 sub in Hainan may mean nothing or a lot. For example, it can be interpreted to hold targets in Australia at risk. There is a very valuable ELF transmitter in Australia that Uncle Sam uses to talk to his submarines. Take that out, US subs near China will have a communication blackout unless they go up near the surface. Take the ELF transmitter in Wisconsin out as well, our subs will really be in the dark. It is a very dangerous game to contemplate a conflict between US and China. Guessing China‚Äôs capabilities without a genuine effort to build trust and friendship can be a self-perpetuating game that leads to misinformation, if not disasters.

  4. Paul

    Four thousand tons surfaced seems far too little, that’s less than the Xia or Washington-class or any other SSBN to my knowledge. I’d estimate 7,500 tons surfaced based on the Ben Franklin class.

  5. James (History)

    Jian: I don’t know about Australia, but the ELF system in Wisconsin has been dismantled. And just because a submarine was SEEN in Hainan doesn’t mean it is BASED in Hainan. As you say, the very sight of something secret leads to people to jump to all sorts of conclusions.

    Along those lines, I would point out that at 4000 tonnes it would be about the size of a Hotel-class SSBN, the first Soviet class and the smallest ever deployed. In other words, I’d be very skeptical of such a low estimate.

  6. Neil (History)

    Hans Kristensen from FAS posted an informative article titled “Chinese Submarine Patrols Rebound in 2007, but Remain Limited” which includes discussion of Chinese boomers.



  7. Carpworld (History)

    4000 would be pretty good going for something holding 12 SLBMs. I’d say it’s more like 7500+ on the surface.

  8. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Damn. I used liquid tons. Sorry, sorry. You are totally right.

    Thanks for catching that. So, my first guess is 11 tons, which seems a little too large.

    I am going to check, but I suspect it is going to come out about 9 tons, like Delta II. (It is also about the same length.)

    That’s significantly smaller (and presumably louder) than a Delta IV (167 m, 12 t).

  9. Jim

    Don’t know if this data is current or accurate, but estimates 10,000 tons surfaced and 12,000 submerged.