The People's Liberation Army Navy has deployed three nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines to its South Sea Fleet base on the southern island province of Hainan, according to the Manila-based InterAksyon news website in a report published July 8.
The Chinese navy displayed a photo on the internet which suggested that three Type 094 Jin-class ballistic missile submarines are currently stationed at the Yulin naval base in Hainan, according to the report. The paper surmised that the three submarines are there to enhance the power projection of the Chinese navy in any potential conflict against Vietnam or the Philippines in the South China Sea.
This may indicate the launch of regular sea patrols by Chinese missile submarines in the South China Sea from Hainan, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Samuel Locklear, US Pacific Command chief, told the website China's submarine force is large and very capable. Locklear told the US House Armed Services Committee this March that the PLA Navy will likely have a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent by the end of 2014.
China also has two Type 056 Jiangdao-class guided missile corvettes stationed in Hainan. The vessels, equipped with surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, as well as a 76mm main gun and two 30mm cannon will begin to patrol the disputed waters as well, posing a threat to the operations of the Vietnamese and Philippine navies in waters near the disputed Spratly Islands.