Satellite images capture single Chinese nuclear submarine entering ‘Bond lair’ cave complex – but all other berths are empty sparking fears the subs are all shadowing the US fleet
- New photos show the Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island in China
- For the first time, a submarine is seen entering an underwater cave network
- The ‘James Bond lair’ was built around 12 years ago, experts believe
- Submarines have been seen at the berths before, but never entering the caves
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The first-known images of a submarine entering an infamous Chinese ‘Bond lair’ of underwater caverns have been published online.
In the pictures, which first appeared on Radio Free Asia’s social media channels, were analyzed by The War Zone.
They were taken at Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island – a highly-important strategic base, with capacity for 20 submarines.
Tyler Rogoway, editor of the site, said he had previously seen photos of the area, but had never actually seen images of a submarine entering the cave network beneath the mountain that houses the base.
‘Although I have seen satellite images of the roadway barges removed from the opening, we have never seen one with a submarine actually using it, until now,’ he wrote.
At the bottom of the photo it is possible to see the outline of the submarine going in to the cave
The submarine is believed to be a Shang class/Type 093 nuclear attack submarine
Rogoway said the submarine in the photos was thought to be a Shang class/Type 093 nuclear attack submarine.
He also noted that all of the other submarine berths were empty – a highly-unusual detail.
Speculation was that the submarines could be out on patrol, or else also within the mountain complex.
Little is known about the interior of the complex.
In 2008 the Federation of American Scientists speculated that the cave facility probably includes a canal at least the length of one submarine, as well as halls for handling or possibly storing equipment, and rooms for personnel.
The Yulin Naval Base is home to one of several known cave networks for submarines
Directly on the other side of the mountain are several land-entrances that might connect to the central facility as well, the FAS wrote in a blog post – stressing that nothing was known for sure.
The tunnels beneath Yulin, which were built at least 12 years ago, are not China’s only submarine cave base.
The submarine seen in the images is believed to be a 093 nuclear sub, like these
A Great Wall 236 submarine of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, in April 2019
A second major underwater tunnel complex is in Jianggezhuang Naval Base, near Qingdao, according to Forbes.
In addition, the submarine base on Xiachuan Dao has a small tunnel just inside the harbor wall.
And a shipyard where large warships and submarines are repaired, near the submarine base at Xiangshan, also has a tunnel.
China is not alone in their use of submarine tunnels.
Sweden, Taiwan, North Korea and Iran are all believed to use similar facilities.