Compared to December last year, the base now has “several sets of sizable buildings including, possibly, administrative offices and barracks” at the center, according to Tom Shugart, Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, who first spotted the developments.
In only six months, an area of reclaimed land in the southern part of the base has tripled in size.
However, the most striking new feature is a “deep draft pier” connecting to the central area of the base.
Back in February, analysts thought the pier was a temporary one to ferry in construction materials and equipment, but it has now turned out to be a permanent naval pier that could provide access to full-size warships of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
Satellite images from May this year show the pier has been measurably extended, with the usable pier length estimated to be roughly 300 meters (984 feet).
“It ought to be able to accommodate any ship in the PLA Navy’s fleet, including its new Type 003 aircraft carrier,” Shugart told RFA.
“What we don’t know is to what depth the harbor will be dredged, the scale of other port services such as shore power, and the scope of the logistical support facilities,” he said.
“However, given the length of the pier, I’d expect it to at least support surface combatants such as destroyers and cruisers, and probably logistics support ships,” the analyst told RFA.
“It looks like lots of rapid progress is underway on construction of this base,” Tom Shugart said, adding that such projects “seem to move pretty quickly given the relative lack of impediments that the Chinese government faces, compared to projects in democratically-governed states, where similar developments are more likely to be slowed down by lawsuits and environmental concerns, etc.”
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