China is proficiently utilizing a German submarine engine, similar to the one Thailand’s navy is seeking. This came to light during a commemorative event for the 117th anniversary of the Royal Thai Navy. Navy chief Adm Adung Phan-iam revealed this compelling secret, that the nation had green-lit the details of the motor that gives life to the Yuan-class S26T submarine. This engineer’s dream is currently under construction by the apex of Chinese naval engineering: China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC), exclusively for the Thai navy.
The throbbing heart of this underwater leviathan, known as the CHD620 engine, originates from German design. But bear in mind, it’s not merely a copy — it’s a licensed version. It parallels the MTU396 engine which the Thai navy had initially specified for its much-anticipated submarine.
What makes this story intriguing is the fact that China, under Germany’s MTU license, is fabricating the engine and has christened it the CHD620. Such a clever move does not violate any previously signed submarine contracts, according to the admiral. It’s as if one could have a brother from another mother, perfectly legal and ethical.
“The cat was out of the bag only after China gave its consent,” said Adm Adung. “China, with its technical prowess and remarkable skills, manufactures the CHD620 engines for Germany.”
Adm Adung confirmed that delegates from the Royal Thai Naval Dockyard observed a Chinese engine test, an epic performance that ran non-stop for 200 hours. It impressed the Thai naval officials so much that it was unanimously decided the engine could replace the originally specified MTU one.
Dealing with such draconian bureaucracy can be a challenge. But Adm Adung, and his predecessor managed to persuade the Defense Ministry to sanction the engine replacement. He alluded to the Thai navy’s ingenious move to employ a Chinese-made marine motor for their submarine. Germany, for reasons known to them, does not allow their engines to power Chinese military vessels.
However, this high-stakes engine drama caused the newly anointed defense minister, a member of the Pheu Thai Party, to put the submarine project on hold. Instead, he proposed the procurement of a mightier piece of nautical machinery: a Chinese frigate.
When queried about CSOC’s lackadaisical response to the frigate proposal, Adm Adung unveiled another surprise. The shipbuilding titan has already completed half of the contracted submarine.
If plans for the submarine are abandoned, the navy may place an order for a different type of vehicle — an offshore patrol vessel rather than a frigate. With great enthusiasm, Adm Adung noted that these expenses would be funded through the navy’s annual budget.