China’s secret ‘submarine cave’ revealed

The second a Chinese language nuclear submarine slipped out of a secret underground base has been caught by satellite tv for pc – laying naked the extent of China’s navy ambitions.

Just some pixels on a commercial-grade Earth-observation satellite tv for pc {photograph}, it portrays a bit of Hainan Island – a strategically vital 35,400sq km land mass off the south coast of China.

It’s the placement of a significant naval base – a lot of it hid in a bunker constructed deep below a mountain peninsula. What was captured seems to be two tugboats manoeuvring a nuclear-powered assault submarine out of a camouflaged tunnel.

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A satellite photo shows a submarine entering the mysterious cave on Hainan Island. Picture: Planet Labs
media_cameraA satellite tv for pc picture reveals a submarine coming into the mysterious cave on Hainan Island. Image: Planet Labs

The August 18 picture, from business satellite tv for pc service Picture Labs, was noticed by Radio Free Asia (RFA) – a US government-funded worldwide broadcaster based mostly in Washington D.C.

RFA’s Drake Lengthy recognized the submarine as one in all China’s six trendy Sort 093 Shang-class assault submarines. Their mission is to hunt and kill different submarines and warships.

It was being backed out of the closely protected underground facility.

“Given the slim aperture of the tunnel, you’re simply asking for hassle for a submarine to depart the tunnel below its personal energy,” retired USN Captain Christopher Carlson is quoted as saying. “Most individuals don’t realise submarines manoeuvre like pigs on the floor.”

In line with the RFA report, the scene “hints at how China can marshal appreciable undersea energy on the doorstep of the disputed South China Sea”.

Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island is often a hive of submarine exercise. The newest picture on Google Maps, for instance, reveals three submarines – two ballistic missile carriers and one smaller assault sort – tied up on the open piers.

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Three submarines can be seen in the most recent image on Google Maps.
media_cameraThree submarines may be seen in the latest picture on Google Maps.

In pictures from August 18, these are unusually empty.

“All of China’s different submarines usually stationed listed below are nowhere to be seen – surprise the place they went,” Lengthy wrote.


What’s or isn’t occurring at Hainan Island’s Yulin Naval Base is of maximum significance to all nations embroiled by Beijing’s assertion of possession over the South China Sea.

US surveillance plane, some believed to be carrying superior imaging radars, have been noticed working within the space in latest weeks.

However whereas territorial disputes plague the South China Sea, no one questions the possession of Hainan Island. Right here, China can assemble its forces with out the chance of a diplomatic incident.

Sitting on the South China Sea’s northwestern extremity, the huge Folks’s Liberation Military facility is the important thing to Beijing implementing its expansive, arbitrary declare.

Halfway between it and Vietnam are the Paracel Islands seized from Hanoi in a brief 1974 conflict.

And at roughly the halfway level between Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines – 1150km from Hainan Island – are the bogus island fortresses of the Spratly Islands. Natuna Island, the scene of a conflict between Indonesia and China earlier this 12 months, is 1750km away.

Yulin Naval Base means enterprise.

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There is no question over the ownership of Hainan Island which is key to China’s claim over the South China Sea. Picture: Google Maps
media_cameraThere is no such thing as a query over the possession of Hainan Island which is essential to China’s declare over the South China Sea. Image: Google Maps

Open supply satellite tv for pc photographs taken throughout the previous 20 years reveal Hainan Island has been closely fortified in that point.

Defending the 25sq km community of tunnels and submarine amenities are massive armoured towers containing anti-ship and anti-air missile launchers. These, with a scattering of point-defence weapons, additionally defend the close by piers and ammunition-handling amenities.

Extra substantial piers close by are designed to assist floor ships. China’s two plane carriers have docked right here, together with an array of destroyers, frigates and assist vessels.

Work started on the ability in 2000. It’s not but full.

The mountain that dominates Yalong Bay, a 7.5km seashore on Hainan, is the centrepiece of China’s nuclear deterrent.

Its earth and stone defend the submarines, crew, weapons and command amenities inside. However synthetic partitions encompass its shores. Blast partitions isolate particular person buildings. Rail traces lead from protected loading amenities into tunnels.

“Any US try and strike targets on Hainan Island would solely actually be practicable within the context of a larger-scale battle and would require extraordinary effort,” Strategic Sentinel analysis affiliate Damen Prepare dinner wrote. “Yulin-East’s floor vessels and assault submarines will strengthen China’s place over essential regional commerce routes and try and coerce China’s neighbours into accepting the nine-dash line.”

Jamie Seidel is a contract author | @JamieSeidel

Initially printed as China’s secret ‘submarine cave’ revealed

Preet Kaur

Preet is our Tech wiz. With a Degree in Computer Science and English literature, she loves to research the latest of the tech world and is great getting to the heart of what’s going on in that arena. At times we need to put a damper on his opinions as they might come off a little strong. “NOT” Keep it rolling Preet, we love your thoughts and insight. e-mail:

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