The Chinese government is reportedly working to develop a revolutionary new warship that would merge the size and strength of large conventional ships with the ability to submerge underwater.
In an article for Popular Science, Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer wrote there are reports “circulating on Chinese websites—including the Wuhan city government site—mention that Chinese institutions are conducting studies on gigantic submersible arsenal ships.”
According to Lin and Singer, there are two different concepts being developed. One is for a large, high-speed warship with a mostly-submerged hull. The second is for a warship that would be almost completely submerged. Both designs involve ships that would displace about 20,000 tons.
— Peter W. Singer (@peterwsinger) June 2, 2017
The versality of the submersible warship would make it one of the most powerful weapons in the world. It would be able to cruise above water at extremely fast speeds by hydroplaning in a manner similar to a speedboat or submerge most of the ship to hide from enemies or shield itself from attacks. It would have the capacity to carry hundreds of missile launchers that could strike targets in the air or on land.
According to the Popular Science report, there are “unverified rumors” suggesting a full-scale “proof-of-concept” is now being constructed for use after 2020.
Newsweek reported on Saturday the idea for a similar vessel was first considered by the U.S. Navy in the 1990s, “but funding proved a major obstacle.”
In March, The Hill reported the top officer for the U.S. Navy said the United States “must get to work now” on building more ships and developing innovative designs.
“The Navy must get to work now to both build more ships, and to think forward — innovate — as we go,” Adm. John Richardson, the chief naval officer, wrote in a white paper. “To remain competitive, we must start today, and we must improve faster.”
According to Richardson, the Navy should add about 75 ships to its current fleet of 275, which is in line with what President Donald Trump has called for.
Richardson also said adding ships wouldn’t be enough on its own.
“Put another way, a 355-ship Navy using current technology is insufficient for maintaining maritime superiority,” Richardson wrote. “We must grow, yes, but we must also implement new ways of operating our battle fleet, which will comprise new types of ships.”