An image taken by Planet Labs shows a Chinese submarine that one military writer surmises could be a nuclear-powered attack submarine possibly exiting a secretive James Bond-like cave built into the side of a Chinese mountain.
Journalist Tyler Rogoway writes at The Drive that China’s huge Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island, home to China’s nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet, has a “submarine cave built into the side of a mountain that dominates the southern end of the installation.”
“Satellite imagery from Aug. 18 shows what appears to be a Type 093, or Shang-class, submarine in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) outside an underground bunker at Yulin Naval Base, on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan. The bunker, accessed from the sea, is known for harboring submarine construction and repair facilities,” Drew Long writes at Radio Free Asia.
Long adds, “As part of China’s military build-up over the past two decades, it has rapidly improved its submarine force, and now has about 70 submarines, dwarfing the fleet of any other country that abuts the South China Sea, according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency’s annual China Military Power Report.”
“The Type-09III (commonly written as Type-093) is China’s main nuclear-powered attack submarine. It is known to NATO as the SHANG Class. While it is not the most common submarine in the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) fleet, it is currently the most potent. It is deployed alongside the country’s ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and so likely plays a role in defending them from other country’s subs,” hisutton.com notes.
Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, told Long, “Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is one of the last remaining U.S. strengths against China … Chinese submarines, as they become more advanced, are still noisier than U.S. submarines. But it’s not really a question of their submarines versus our submarines. It’s their submarines versus our ASW, and our submarines versus their ASW. When you’re trying to kill a submarine, being able to find them and track them is the most important thing.”
The Navy Times reported in July, “After U.S. aircraft carriers Nimitz and Ronald Reagan and their strike groups conducted dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea this month, Chinese outlet The Global Times reported that ‘any US aircraft carrier movement in the region is solely at the pleasure of the PLA,’ citing analysts.”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated, “I don’t know what the Chinese meant by that hollow statement about American carriers being there by the pleasure of the PLA or something. Look, American aircraft carriers have been in the South China Sea in the Indo-Pacific since World War II and we’ll continue to be there, and we’re not going to be stopped by anybody. We’re going to sail, fly and operate where international law allows and we do that, again, to assert international law and rights to back up the sovereignty of our friends and partners and to reassure them that we will be there to defend those things.”
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