China's Massive Yulin Naval Base In South China Sea Getting Even Bigger
China’s main naval base in the South China Sea continues to grow. Additional quays will almost double the size of the Sanya side of Yulin naval base. A new quay has been built on the western shore of Yulin Harbor, outside the historic inner harbor. This may indicate that the base will play an increasing role in the basing of uncrewed platforms.
Construction was started in 2022 and is already substantially complete. This first quay (technically a marginal wharf, built on pilings and parallel to the shore), on the west side of the harbor is 500 meters (1,640 feet) long. This is the one which, intuitively, may be the home base of uncrewed vessels in the future. China has been developing extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicles (XLUUVs). These have already been tested at Yulin. Until now they have simply used existing quays, with equipment camped out in temporary shelters.
China also has multiple uncrewed surface vessel (USV) projects, including large ones which will need berthing like ordinary ships. As these uncrewed platforms approach operational status they will need base facilities, so some construction was expected.
Opposite the first new quay, and adjacent to the massive dry docks which are themselves still new, is another. This totals around 1,020 meters (3,350 feet) in length. Its proximity to the dry dock suggests it may principally relate to that. On the other side of the dry dock is another area of land reclamation, possibly the start of yet another quay or pier.
To the east, in the next bay in an area known as Longpo naval base (part of the wider Yulin Naval base together with Sanya), two additional submarine piers have been built. These have been relatively well documented.
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