A Chinese nuclear-powered submarine was reportedly docked at a port in Pakistan, raising concerns across the border in India that it could have been monitoring the movement of its warships more closely than ever.
The Type 093 Shang submarine, docked at the Karachi harbor, is likely being used to scrutinize the movements of Indian warships far more closely than ever before at a time when China is competing with India for domination of the Indian Ocean.
The image can be accessed by clicking on the historical imagery icon on Google Earth and scrolling back to May, 2016, said the report.
However, Indian nuclear experts say that the docked submarine could be the even more powerful Chinese Type 093 ‘Shang’ class, far quieter and tougher to detect and equipped with newer weapons and advanced technology, including a nuclear reactor.
A nuclear powered submarine has an unlimited range of operations because their nuclear reactors rarely require refuelling. These submarines can be deployed underwater for extended durations and they are also difficult to track. Nuclear submarines are faster than the conventional diesel powered submarines. Diesel submarines operate for a shorter duration of a few weeks.
Unlike the conventional diesel-electric submarines, nuclear-powered submarines can remain under the water for weeks. They are are normally loaded with heavy weapons, including torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. Nuclear submarines are also faster than their conventional counterparts.
India is wary of the Chinese presence in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as the former considers it to be its own backyard and detests any external interference.
However, India sees the presence of the submarine as China’s way of showing its military aggressiveness to dominate in the region that is strategically vital to India’s sovereignty and security.
“As far as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy ships and submarines are concerned, the Indian Navy keeps a close eye and monitor their movements. We launch surveillance missions in the form of aircraft and ships to keep a track of them,” Lanba had said last month.
China had earlier asserted that its deployment was purely aimed at an anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia. However, senior Indian naval officers have denied the claims.