Photos taken by the South Korean reconnaissance satellite Arirang-2 on September 19 show the Bohai Shipyard at Huludao, in China’s Liaoning Province, is in the midst of a major expansion project.
Satellite imagery & analysis by @CovertShores from Sept. captured the #PLA building a new construction hall at Bohai, the only shipyard in #China that produces nuclear submarines as more signs of naval modernization emerge. #IndoPacific @TheWarMonitor @AndrewSErickson @SCS_news pic.twitter.com/6RZ7booKIh— Intelfeedia (@intelfeedia) October 14, 2020
According to USNI News, which first obtained the image via ShadowBreak Intl, Bohai is building a second construction hall, allowing it to build two submarines simultaneously. At present, the shipyard can only build one large nuclear-powered submarine at a time, meaning that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) can only receive one new submarine at a time.
Asia Times reported in June that Bohai had been expanding its facilities since 2014, but with the dawn of the new Type 095 nuclear-powered attack submarine and the upcoming Type 096 ballistic missile submarine, the existing facilities likely cannot fit more than one sub at once. However, USNI News claimed each hall could still hold two submarines at once.
For a navy that hopes to get at least six new nuclear-powered attack submarines in the next decade, that’s a troublesome bottleneck.
China’s other shipyards are expanding, too, such as the massive project outside Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, where the PLAN’s two new Type 002 aircraft carriers are being built.