China said to be Developing ‘Arsenal Warship’ Proposed by US Navy

Concept for China's proposed arsenal submersible.

Concept for China’s proposed arsenal submersible.

Proposed U.S. Navy arsenal ship.

Proposed U.S. Navy arsenal ship.

The fantastic “arsenal ship” — a surface warship packed with as many as 500 missiles almost built by the U.S. Navy two decades ago — is allegedly being considered for development by China.

The Chinese have put one twist in their concept for an arsenal ship, however.

They intend their version of the arsenal ship to be a massive “submersible,” which is a vessel that can submerge but spends most of its time on the surface.

One other but more controversial concept is developing a true arsenal submarine that stays submerged for most of its mission.

Posts on Chinese websites are saying Chinese research associations either owned by or associated with the government are conducting studies regarding the feasibility of these submersible or submerged arsenal warships. They claim there has been significant design work and concept proofing for this arsenal warship.

The U.S. Navy version of the arsenal warship is a floating missile platform intended to have as many as 500 vertical launch bays for cruise missiles. The Navy wanted its arsenal ships to be unmanned robotic vessels operated by remote control.


First proposed in 1996, the arsenal warships would have used its missiles for shore bombardment in support of invading U.S. Marines. Congress scrapped funding for the project in 1998.

On the other hand, the Chinese are said to be looking at a high-speed submersible or submarine displacing some 20,000 tons. The submersible will feature two conning towers.

It will have four stages: submerged; partial exposure of the superstructure; raising the hull to the waterline and as a low draft and operating as a high-speed hydroplane.

To reduce its radar cross section, the arsenal submersible will have most of its hull submerged, with only the bridge and a few other parts of the ship above the waterline. When traveling with a carrier strike group, however, the arsenal submersible will use its flat hull bottom to hydroplane at high speeds.

Because it needs a surface warfare group for protection huge, an arsenal submersible will have to spend most of its mission on the surface and submerge when threatened, much the same mission profile as the Type VII and Type IX U-Boats in World War II of the Kriegsmarine (the German Navy).

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