Three Chinese naval tech experts drown trying to save research platform during typhoon

Men were swept out to sea by big waves as they tried to stop it from capsizing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2018, 9:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2018, 6:23pm

Three top Chinese naval technology experts involved in developing nuclear submarines have died trying to save an experimental floating platform as a typhoon battered the country’s northeast.

The three men drowned off the coast of Dalian on Monday after being swept out to sea by big waves brought by Typhoon Rumbia. The platform’s developer, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), confirmed the deaths in a statement on Thursday.

They were identified as Huang Qun, deputy director of CSIC’s No 760 Institute in Dalian, Song Yuecai, chief scientist of the experimental programme, and Jiang Kaibin, its chief electromechanical engineer.

The institute – also known as the Dalian Institute for Measurement and Control Technology – specialises in underwater acoustic engineering, and vibration and noise testing technologies, which are important for submarine development.

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It is a key player in China’s nuclear submarine programme, including the Type 098 – a fourth-generation nuclear sub developed with a higher performance and lower noise, allowing it to remain undetected when it launches an attack.

The company said the institute’s floating platform had been hit by waves and strong winds and was in danger of capsizing when the three men, along with eight other staff, ran to the pier to fasten ropes and poles and stabilise it.

“The experimental platform is a specialised piece of equipment for research at sea, which is very important to several key technologies in our vessel development,” the statement said, without elaborating.

Seven of the staff were swept out to sea as they tried to stop the platform from capsizing, with four of them later rescued. The three men were pulled from the water unconscious but medics could not revive them.

“They have sacrificed their precious lives for the safety of the platform and the maintenance staff on board,” the statement said, adding there were four employees on the platform at the time.

An unverified obituary for the three men circulating online said Huang, 51, was previously deputy chief quality engineer of another institute known for submarine design, while Song, 61, used to be a submarine captain.

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The CSIC held a minute’s silence on Tuesday for the men who lost their lives, and called on all its staff to learn from them and work hard to make China’s navy world-class.

A state-owned shipbuilder, CSIC has built a number of warships for the fast expanding People’s Liberation Army Navy, including its first home-grown aircraft carrier, which is at the sea trial stage, and two Type 055 destroyers.

CSIC’s Dalian shipyard retrofitted China’s first and only operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning – a Soviet-era vessel that was named after the province.

Typhoon Rumbia hit eastern, northeastern and central China over the weekend, affecting nearly 9.5 million people and leaving at least 22 people dead and seven missing, the National Commission for Disaster Reduction said on Monday.