Military observers across social media are abuzz after a satellite photo emerged that appears to show a Chinese submarine entering an underground base on the southernmost island of Hainan on the South China Sea.
The rare satellite image, which was captured Aug. 19 by Planet Labs and released on social media by the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia, shows a Type 093 nuclear-powered attack submarine belonging to the the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Submarine Force entering a subterranean tunnel to an underground berth at the important Yulin Naval Base.
The image is also causing interest because other submarines aren’t visible in the image of the strategic base. The other docks in the image are completely empty, raising questions among online users as to where China’s nuclear-powered vessels might be.
— Sentinel (@StratSentinel) February 18, 2017
The images quickly drew comparisons to spy films such as James Bond, as well as a reference to the fictional Nautilus, from Jules Verne’s novel “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
The Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island is a strategic location for myriad reasons. The base lies nearly 300 miles southwest of Hong Kong and is home to China’s nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet, which is crucial to China’s second-strike abilities. The base also lies on the northern edge of the disputed South China Sea, which has been the source of friction with neighboring Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and a U.S. keen on maintaining its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.
As China has grown richer and more powerful militarily, the country has also grown more assertive in establishing and defending its sovereignty in the strategic South China Sea, drawing contentious reactions from the East Asian giant’s regional and geopolitical rivals.
And with Washington and Beijing remain embroiled in bitter trade talks and growing tensions, the U.S. Navy – as well as private imaging companies – are turning more attention to the disputed waters, as was the case when a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft flew over the South China Sea last week.
Submarine was exiting stern first, and was pushed towards the piers outside the bunker. All of China's other submarines normally stationed here are nowhere to be seen – wonder where they went… pic.twitter.com/ZFERRGeHQI
— Drake Long (@DRM_Long) August 20, 2020
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is known to hide many of its strategic assets underground, which comes naturally for a military with historical roots as a guerilla force that often relied on subterfuge and tunnel warfare tactics during the 1937-1945 war against Japanese occupation and the country’s communist revolution. The country’s long martial history is also rich with stories of underground military facilities.
China is also known to have a so-called “Underground Great Wall” in the form of a labyrinthine tunnel network meant to conceal, mobilize and deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Any move by China to conceal its submarine fleet from rivals’ surveillance systems by hiding them in underground tunnels robs potential adversaries from accurately assessing the country’s military strength and also from ensuring that the strategic vessels, as well as Chinese military preparations, remain elusive.
“You have no evidence of (the submarine’s) combat readiness, operational response times and availability,” said Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, to CNN. “Tunnels blind potential opponents to the submarines’ operating status and patterns, denying them the ability to determine the state of China’s military preparations, knowledge critical to assessing China’s intentions and plans.”
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.