Earlier this week, images capturing a Chinese submarine departing an underwater base were caught by satellite – revealing the unrelenting military ambitions of Beijing. The submarine was located near Hainan Island – a strategically significant territory off the south coast of China. The naval base is hidden underneath a bunker built deep under a mountain peninsula. The August 18 photo, from commercial satellite service Photo Labs, was spotted by Radio Free Asia (RFA) – a US government-funded international broadcaster based in Washington DC.
The submarine has been identified as a Type 093 Shang-class attack submarine, of which China’s forces possess six.
Retired USN Captain Christopher Carlson warned that these vessels were “asking for trouble” adding that “most people don’t realise submarines manoeuvre like pigs on the surface.”
RFA’s report claimed the scene “hints at how China can marshal considerable undersea power on the doorstep of the disputed South China Sea”.
Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island is normally a hive of submarine activity.
The most recent image on Google Maps, for example, shows three submarines – two ballistic missile carriers and one smaller attack type – tied up at the open piers.
This isn’t the first time a base of this type has been discovered, though.
Building was commenced on another base, worth £230million, in 2017 which aims to help President Xi Jinping quell US opposition by increasing Chinese control of the contested waters.
Security experts believe it could take the form of an underwater spy hub, equipped with trackers which could help locate US warships and submarines.
READ MORE: South China Sea: Beijing’s ‘nuclear weapons plot’ in contested region
A source close to the Chinese military said today that an “aircraft-carrier killer” and one other missile were launched into the South China Sea as a warning to the US.
One of the missiles, a DF-26B, was launched from the northwestern province of Qinghai, while the other, a DF-21D, lifted off from Zhejiang, a province in the east of the country.
The move represents a drastic escalation in an already fragile standoff between two of the world’s biggest nuclear powers.
Both missiles targeted between Hainan province and the Paracel Islands according to Beijing’s forces, areas contested by smaller nations such as Vietnam and Taiwan.