The Sentinel-2 image shows a Chinese ballistic missile submarine and an escort vessel in the Taiwan Strait, according to a US defence analyst. Photo: H.I. Sutton/Twitter
A Chinese nuclear-powered submarine surfaced in the Taiwan Strait on Monday, a US defence analyst said, citing satellite imagery – a rare move that could be a message for Washington.
US Naval Institute columnist H.I. Sutton posted the image – taken by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite around 10am – which he said showed a ballistic missile submarine in the waterway, accompanied by another vessel.
“Although Sentinel-2 is low resolution, the wake patterns are characteristic of a submarine with typical rounded bow. The length best fits the Type 094 and the context aligns,” Sutton wrote on his personal website Covert Shores.
He said the submarine was heading north from the People’s Liberation Army base in Yulin, on the southern coast of Hainan in the South China Sea. He said it was likely a routine transit, noting that Chinese submarines returned north to a shipyard on the Bohai Sea for “repairs and overhaul”.