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Dawn-to-dusk imagery collection reveals rapid pace of construction for China’s second off-shore strategic naval port

A post by BlackSky


HERNDON, Va. (July 24, 2023) — BlackSky released a ten-image collection captured over Ream, Cambodia, showing the rapid pace of development of a large Chinese military naval station from August 2021 until July 2023. The high-resolution, electro-optical images are part of a collection of more than 520 images captured from October 2019 until now and contains time-diverse imagery taken as early as 8 a.m., and as late as 7:58 p.m., Indochina Time.


“BlackSky’s unique ability to capture and quickly deliver large volumes of dawn-to-dusk, time-diverse imagery increases transparency into strategic military and economic activities that otherwise would have gone unnoticed,” said Brian E. O’Toole, BlackSky CEO. “Our commercial high-frequency monitoring satellite constellation and AI-driven tasking and analytics platform gives our customers the on-demand ability to observe critical change over time.

“The speed of development at the Ream base makes it difficult to deny the intentional velocity behind China’s overseas basing initiatives,” said Craig Singleton, China Program deputy director and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Cambodia’s receptivity to hosting China’s second overseas naval port increases Beijing’s strategic ability to project military power into the Indian Ocean.”


“There is a near-exact similarity between an angled deep-water pier located on the western shore of the Ream base and another military pier at the People’s Liberation Army Support Base in Djibouti. Both main piers are 363 meters long and large enough to support any ship in China’s naval arsenal, including the new 300-meter-long Type 003 Fujian aircraft carrier,” Singleton said.


Third-party analysts have also observed the development of a thirty-eight thousand square meter artificial peninsula on the southern shore of the base and many architecturally distinct Cambodian and Chinese military buildings, including an alleged headquarters facility, barracks and fuel storage areas.


BlackSky’s high-resolution constellation can capture imagery on an hourly basis up to 15 times per day. This unique ability to gather images from dawn until dusk is possible because BlackSky’s constellation flies predominantly in inclined orbits, horizontally oriented around the equator. Traditional satellite imagery providers are limited to capturing images between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. because they fly in sun synchronous polar orbits.


The original high resolution, ten-image collection is available upon request.

Posted on August 3, 2023

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