Emperor Kublai Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 but doesn't represent a submarine class terribly well.
Following yesterday’s YUAN 1 article it struck me that it seems useful to look at the name “Yuan” submarine from first principles.
Dynastic Names Unhelpful
It seems the West/NATO was a little too clever in "reporting" naming Chinese submarines after Chinese dynasties. A downside includes an implication the Chinese PLAN is an age old mystically-minded outfit.
Here is an aging list of NATO reporting names for ships and submarines http://www.ais.org/~schnars/aero/nato-shp.htm which includes the dynastic “HAN Class”, “MING Class”, and “XIA Class”.
Western audiences (except for specialised enthusiasts) have no inkling of the sequence or characteristics of each successive Chinese dynasty.
In any case Chinese submarine dynasties are out of order. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_dynasty (right sidebar scrolling about 1/5 way down) where you will see "Song" dynasty followed by "Yuan" (so far, so good) but then followed chronologically by “Ming” dynasty. This is unhelpful as the first Ming submarine was launched in 20th century terms long before the first Songs or Yuans).
Also "Yuan" is a unit of currency.
Sequential Numbers and Letters Much Better
Instead Chinese submarine developments have less to do with old dynasties and more to do with incremental submarine improvements that respond to:
- modern naval requirements,
- naval engineering solutions/realizations, and
- related technical developments in submarine components
(eg. electronics, weapons, AIP, batteries and diesels.)
Incremental improvements are best reflected in numbers and letters rather than dynastic names.
There is no single Yuan model. Instead each succeeding "Yuan" submarine incorporates gradual improvements (hence Type 039A, 039AG, 039B and 039B (upgraded), S20, and S26T.
Better than "Yuan" is using Type “41” as a collective term for all China's AIP submarines (and then A, B, C as subsets). This provides a clean break from the non-AIP Songs (Type 039s).
So far as I can see the “Type” numbers are of Chinese PLAN origin, judging by:
Confirmed by this Chinese site http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2011-08/11/c_121845981.htm (right-click mouse to Translate to English)
“Long March” followed by a number*
Ballistic and cruise missile armed conventional submarines
“Expedition” followed by a number*
“Great Wall” followed by a number*
* but seems to be Westernized to “Type” followed by:
There is a consideration that politicians and navies prefer to use evocative names when describing submarine classes to other politicians, long-suffering Finance Ministers and the public. Evocative names seem a cheap drawcard to induce the public, as tax payers, to part with $100s millions per submarine and in Australia $Billions PER submarine.
Submarines should be demystified, de-romanticized as they are chiefly weapons of war rather than memorials to obscure, ancient, dynasties or metal fish.