Vietnam Deploys Submarines in South China Sea

Vietnam is preparing to deploy the first of six Kilo-class submarines purchased from Russia into the South China Sea, as a deterrent to China’s seemingly endless expansionism in the region.


The Sydney Morning Herald reports that at least one of the submarines has “begun patrolling disputed waters of the South China Sea, as deterrents to China’s 10 times-bigger navy,” citing Vietnamese officials. Vietnam has only received fix of the submarines from Russia so far, the sixth scheduled to arrive in early 2016. The news of a Vietnamese buildup in the Cam Ranh Bay, where all six submarines are scheduled to make their home, comes at the tail end of a week in which China has made at least three landings on manmade islands in the Spratly archipelago, prompting severe criticism from Vietnam and the Philippines. Both contest the Spratly Islands, while China claims most of the South China Sea to be its sovereign territory.


The most recent China provocation occurred on Wednesday, when state outlet Xinhua announced that two planes had landed on an artificial island on the Fiery Cross Reef, territory the international community does not deem to be Chinese. “This is a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty, threatening peace and regional stability, threatening security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh told reporters following the publication of the report.


Carlyle Thayer, a professor from Australia’s Defence Force Academy in Canberra, is quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald as saying the submarines may pose a significant problem for China as it continues to construct landing strips and other military facilities in the region. Thayer wrote of the issue:


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