Yulin Naval Base
Yulin Naval Base (榆林海军基地) is a naval base for nuclear submarines along the southern coast of Hainan Island, People's Republic of China. This underground base has recently been reported by several intelligence agencies, especially Indian agencies. The images collected by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in February 2008 shows that China constructed a large scale underground base for its naval forces.
The caverns are capable of hiding up to 20 nuclear submarines from spy satellites. The harbor houses nuclear ballistic missile submarines and is large enough to accommodate aircraft carriers. The US Department of Defense has estimated that China will have five Type 094 nuclear submarines operational by 2010 with each capable of carrying 12 JL-2 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Two 950 metre piers and three smaller ones would be enough to accommodate two carrier strike groups or amphibious assault ships.
The submarine base is located at the point in Chinese territory that is closest to the continental shelf. It is roughly 50 nautical miles (93 km) from the base to the 200 meter isobath. It is 150 nautical miles (280 km) to the closest of the disputed Paracel Islands or the city of Da Nang, Vietnam. Speculation has been raised that the base is intended to be expanded to include future capability for aircraft carrier groups.
The submarine base is not in a remote location. It is only a few miles from the city of Sanya (population 536,000 in 2006), a popular tourist destination and the site of a major planned future cruise hub. The base is immediately next to the Yalong Bay National Resort District featuring resort hotels operated by Banyan Tree, Hilton, Marriot, Sheraton, Ritz Carlton, and Holiday Inn right outside of the entrance.
More than half of the world's annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Strait of Malacca, Sunda Strait, and Lombok Strait, with the majority continuing on into the South China Sea. Tanker traffic through the Strait of Malacca leading into the South China Sea is more than three times greater than Suez Canal traffic, and well over five times more than the Panama Canal. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has stated its claim to almost the entire body of water. The base raises concern over security threats to ASEAN nations and India since it has the capability to cut off all commercial activity in the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea in case a crisis occurs.
- INS Varsha, an Indian nuclear submarine base
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