First Look: Vietnam Cam Ranh Bay Imagery Update

CSBiggers Cam Ranh Bay Annotated

The latest imagery update available in Google Earth shows some new developments at Vietnam’s deep-water port of Cam Ranh Bay. For starters, we get a clear view of the new international port facility that was inaugurated back in March. Space snapshots acquired by DigitalGlobe show extensive berthing areas including a 640 meter finger pier and a 500 meter quay wall. Several new administrative and support buildings were also visible since the previous update.

Hanoi has been telegraphing the construction of the port facility for some time in anticipation to draw foreign civilian and military ships. Upon opening, the Vietnamese press put emphasis on aircraft carriers up to 110,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) and cruise ships weighing up to 100,000 GRT (gross tonnage). The mention of the former, of course, hints at how far U.S.-Vietnam relations have come.

And certainly some sizable vessels have made their way to the Southeast Asian port. The first vessel from the Republic of Singapore, the lead Endurance Class (207) LST, set sail from Changi naval base and arrived on 17 March for a five day port call. Satellite imagery even captured the 141 meter long vessel berthed at the new finger pier (above).

Subsequently, two Japanese guided-missile destroyers made their way to the port the following month in a move meant to boost defense ties and reify Japan’s support for regional security. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese Defence Minister Gen Nakatani told the press at the time that Japan would work with the United States to ensure regional peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Beyond regional vessels, the first reported western boat also arrived earlier this month. On 02 May, the French Mistral-class (LHD) amphibious assault ship arrived for a four day port call. The latest vessel and by far the largest, the French ship was loaded with naval cadets which signaled “the desire to increase cooperation between the armed forces and governments,” according to a press release from the French embassy in Hanoi.

CSBiggers Cam Ranh Bay Phase II Annotated

Additional space snapshots showed Phase II still under construction at the time of capture. The imagery confirms press reporting that the international port facility will feature ship maintenance and repair services.

Located to the north of Phase I, imagery acquired in March shows the ship repair facility with four covered halls, a transverse table, and a synchrolift (or ship elevator), all in various states of build. New administrative and support buildings were also visible. In addition, a 890 sq meter cleared section of land was noted behind the covered halls. This could support the staging of ship plates and modules for new vessel construction, in which case, the maintenance facility would also double as a fabrication shop.

We await future imagery for more insight.

This entry was posted in English, Intelligence, Vietnam.

1 Response to First Look: Vietnam Cam Ranh Bay Imagery Update

  1. …and there is more to see at Cam Ranh Bay. Just to the north of Phase II (exact location) five Vietnam People’s Navy improved Kilo-class submarines (Project-636) were at the finger piers in February 2016. (In the latest imagery from March 2016 available in Google Earth three were visible). These Kilos were delivered by Russia.

    DG 11FEB2016 Vịnh Cam Ranh

    In December 2009, Vietnam signed a contract with Rosoboronexport for six Project-636 diesel electric submarines during Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng’s visit to Moscow. The first Kilo — named Hanoi — was delivered in January 2014 to Cam Ranh Bay while the fifth and latest boat was transferred by the end of 2015. The last and final Kilo of the contract was launched at Admiralty Shipyards of St. Petersburg in September 2015 (see image below).


    The Project-636 submarines have about a 3000-ton displacement, and are able to operate at a maximum depth of 300 meters and at a range of 6,000-7, 500 nautical miles for 45 days with 52 crew members.

    Cam Ranh Bay is home to the 4th Regional Command of the Vietnam People’s Navy. Its task is to manage the South China Sea and the Vietnamese south central coast, which includes the Spratly Islands. 🙂

    Thanks goes to Chris Biggers for information and imagery!

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