Type 918 (Wolei Class) Minelayer
The Type 918 (NATO reporting name: Wolei class) is the sole dedicated minelayer developed by the PLA Navy. The vessel was designed to fast deploy sea mines in the coastal waters to stop enemy from launching an amphibious assault. The Type 918 was developed during the peak time of the Cold War, when the PRC faced constant threat of the Soviet forces in the Far East. However, due to the improved security environment in the late 1980s, the construction plan of subsequent hulls was cancelled after only one hull Liaoyang (hull No.814) was delivered.
Facing the threat of a possible amphibious assault to its east coast by the Soviet Pacific Fleet, the PRC began to develop a dedicated minelayer for its navy in the late 1970s. The task to develop the Type 918 minelayer was assigned to the 708 Institute in 1983. At the same time, a factory in Nanjing began to develop the mine laying equipment for the vessel. Construction of the first-of-class hull No.814 began in June 1984, and the vessel was launched in December 1986. After a sea trial that lasted for one year, the vessel was commissioned by the North Sea Fleet in January 1988. The construction of subsequent hulls was later cancelled.
The Type 918 is 94m in length and has a displacement of 2,300 tonnes. The vessel was designed to operate in bad weather and high wave conditions. The main purpose of the vessel was to deploy a minefield to block the Bohai Strait in time of crisis to stop the Soviet fleet from launching an amphibious assault to its coastal city Tianjin, only some 120km east of the capital Beijing. Because the Bohai Straight is also a busy sea transportation route, no mine can be laid during the peacetime. Therefore the vessel must be able to deploy the sea mines on short notice and complete the mine laying mission within a very short period of time.
In order to meet the requirements, the Type 918 was equipped with highly automated mine management and deployment systems that are controlled by computers. Sea mines of different types and sizes are automatically moved between different decks and compartments to achieve the maximum usage of onboard spaces. When used in conjunction with the navigation system, the automatic mine deployment system allows accurate control of the location, size, and intensity of the minefield. Considering that the mine loading equipment in the naval base may be damaged during the wartime, the vessel has a large crane installed on its bow deck to load mines from smaller transport vessels.
The living conditions onboard the Type 918 are much improved in comparison with previous PRC-built surface combatants. The vessel was one of the first PLAN vessels to have been developed with usages in both wartime and peacetime in mind. As well as being used for mine deployment mission, the Type 918 could also serve as for transport, replenishment, and training roles. Some compartments onboard the vessel are used as temporary living quarters, canteens, gyms or other purposes in peacetime, and can be converted into sea mine storages in time of crisis.
The vessel is armed with four Type 76 dual-37mm/63-calibre AAA guns, which fires shells at a rate of 180 rounds/minute to a maximum range of 8,500m.
The vessel has two 12PA6V-280 diesels that produce 4,320hp (3,177.35kW), with 2 shafts, giving a maximum speed of 18.5 knots.
Displacement: (standard)2,300 tonnes;
(full load) 2,418 tonnes
Dimensions: Length 94.88m; Beam 14m, Draft 3.88m
Propulsion: 2 X 12PA6V-280 diesels, 4,320 hp (3,177.35
kW); 2 shafts
Speed: Maximum 18.5 knots; Cruising 16 knots
Range: 3,000nm @ 16kt
Guns: 4 manual Type 76 dual-37 mm AAA
Mine Laying Equipment: 6 X mine layers; 2 X hydraulic
cranes; 2 X hydraulic lift
Last update: 16 June 2008