China’s first nuclear-powered submarine discovered on Google Earth images

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China's new nuclear submarine has been spotted under construction for the first time on Google Earth.

An aerial image shows a 100ft long and 40ft wide hull section of a submarine on a new site near to the legacy Bohai shipyard where all of China’s nuclear submarines are currently built, Navy News reports.

Thanks to Google Earth, a bird's eye view of the construction site and first stage of the submarine build, can be found by anyone with internet access.

It is unclear what class the submarine is but Navy News experts predict it is likely to be the first Type-095 Tang-class attack submarine (SSN) or the first Type-096 ballistic missile sub (SSBN).

Google's cameras revealed the tail end of the submarine, as is standard procedure building, with the nose leaving the construction hall first.

The new submarine will be part of the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) massive nuclear-powered expansion which will take it on to become a true blue-water Navy.

China's new Type-095 (more properly written Type-09V) is an attack submarine which is expected to operate similarly to the US Navy’s Virginia-class. And the Type-096 (Type-09VI) will improve the survivability and reach of China’s at-sea nuclear deterrent.

It is also possible for the pictured vessel to be an improved version of the current Type-093 Shang-class which Navy News says would logically be the Type-093B cruise-missile optimised version.

Features of it are likely to include vertical launch tubes similar to the Russian Yasen-class, allowing it to carry more YJ-18 cruise missiles.

However, the approximate measurements are making these completely new classes a safer bet at this stage.

These new classes will be more advanced than the Type-093, with increased levels of stealth. The Type-095 in particular may become very relevant if the PLAN increases its presence in the Indian Ocean.

  • Google Earth
  • China
  • Missiles

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