The US Navy and the Pentagon have always been totally truthful in their advice to Congress or that is the ideal, anyway.
"but in quality they are still not there” is correct.
So how many submarines does China have? The answer from the Pentagon is "more than 60"
The Pentagon's Annual Report to Congress: China Report 2014 (ever after called China Report 2014) reported on Page 7 "more than 60 submarines" and on Pages 7-8 actual submarines types and quantities were identified - which were less than 60. These were:
- 3 JIN-class (Type 094) second generation SSBN. The JL-2 SLBM's are still being tested and PLAN doctrine suggests the JL-2s are not usually carried, for security and political reasons.
- 2 SHANG-class (Type 093) second generation SSNs are in service,
- 4 HAN-class (Type 091) "aging" first generation SSNs . These rely on 1960s technology. China Report 2014 does not specify numbers. However only 5 were built of which at least 1 is considered decommissioned.
- 12 YUAN-class SSP (called Type 039A or Type 041) as the 039A has very little resemblance to the 039 it is commonly referred to as the Type 041. The Type 039A/041 possibly has Stirling Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) sold to China by Sweden
- 13 SONG-class SS (Type 039)
- 12 KILO-class submarines acquired from Russia in the 1990s and 2000s
The China Report 2014 only details 46 submarines.
Question: So how is "more than 60" derived?
Answer: reach 61 Chinese submarines (presumably) by adding:
- 13 MING-class (Type 033 to 035A). These are 1950's technology that are not mentioned in China Report 2014. They are used by China for training only. These are totally obsolete, being closely based on the 70 year old Russian ROMEO-class which in turn were based on Germany's Type XXI U-Boat of World War Two. Two of them may now be going to the navy of Bangladesh. Figure of 13 here. MINGs may be equivalent to US post-war GUPPY uprades. and
- 2 XIA-class (Type 092) SSBNs. They are 1970s technology and also are not mentioned in China Report 2014. One may be active. The other is considered lost in an accident.
So "more than 60" means 61. One of those 61 (a XIA) may be permanenetly submerged and two MINGs might soon be gifted to Bangladesh - hence 58 on publically known figures - and that is a stretch.
Meanwhile "A spokeswoman said the U.S. Navy had 71 commissioned U.S. submarines."
It should be left to the reader to assess whether Admiral M and the China Report 2014 are accurate or misleading.
53 Attack submarines nuclear (SSN)
14 Ohio SSBN
4 Ohio SSGN
71 Total US Submarines
A good comment on the pattern of US Navy-Pentagon fear mongering is here.