A commercial satellite captured a “rare” Chinese submarine using an underground military base in a strategic area for the Chinese army, according to media reports.
The image, taken by a commercial satellite of a US company called Planet Labs, shows the submarine, which appears to be a “093” nuclear-powered attack, standing in front of an underground bunker on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea.
In the photo taken on August 18, the submarine is seen standing at the entrance to a secret underground tunnel located at the Yulin Naval Base, one of the important naval bases for the Chinese army, and is stationed in the south of the island, about 500 kilometers from Hong Kong.
In the photo, two boats can also be seen, which appear in another photo taken the next day while the submarine was towing towards a dock.
Drew Thompson, a former US Defense Department official, told CNN that filming the submarine by a commercial satellite “is rare,” because it was overhead at the right time.
But he notes that the issue of an underground base is not surprising for China, as it “has enormous experience in setting up underground facilities” and uses these bases to hide its military equipment, such as submarines and missile systems, away from the mainland.
The “093” submarine is one of the most advanced submarines of the Chinese army, and experts believe that there are only six of them in service, while the army is working to develop them and make them more capable of antiques.
The site “RFA” said that China has improved the capabilities of its submarine within the framework of its military buildup, during the past two decades, and now has about 70 submarines, which makes it superior to the countries bordering the South China Sea.
The United States is outpacing China in the undersea war, says Oriana Skyler-Mastro, a fellow at the Freeman Spogley Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.
The South China Sea is the scene of a conflict between China and neighboring countries, due to its attempt to impose its control over it, but the United States opposes this and has increased its training operations and intelligence missions in the region.