China's underwater power: PLANSF

The People's Liberation Army Navy Submarine Force (PLANSF) is the submarine service of the People's Liberation Army Navy.

It consists of all types of submarines in operational service organized into three fleets: the North Sea Fleet, the East Sea Fleet, and the South Sea Fleet.

Submarines have long been one of the three focuses of the People's Liberation Army Navy (the other two are aircraft and major surface combatants), and when the decision was made in late 2006 to concentrate on building other principal surface combatants to strengthen the air defense and to further delay the construction of aircraft carriers due to insufficient air cover, submarines will continue to play the lead dominant role in the assault force for the PLAN.

Currently, PLANSF operates a fleet of 68 submarines which include nuclear as well as conventional submarines

China was the first Asian country and the 5th globally to successfully design, build and commission a nuclear-powered submarine

The PLAN understands the value of nuclear submarines and the doctrine surrounding them. The PLAN currently has two types of nuclear-powered attack submarines in service

China is constructing a major underground nuclear submarine base near Sanya, Hainan. The Daily Telegraph on 1 May 2008 reported that tunnels were being built into hillsides which could be capable of hiding up to 20 nuclear submarines from spy satellites

Submarine warfare is regarded as a vital part of PLAN's coastal defense doctrine. Large numbers of conventional powered submarines have therefore been in service, and this force makes up the bulk of the PLAN's submarines, making it the second largest submarine force in the world today