Nuclear Subs Spotted at Sea Near Japan and China in Google Earth

[UPDATE July 6, 2007: Here’s a link to the location of a suspected nuclear Chinese submarine found in Google Earth and discussed this week.]

Submarine near China in Google Earth Submarine near Japan in Google EarthThe world is truly a really big place. At any moment in time you can take a picture from space (or an airplane) and always catch something interesting going on. With millions of people using Google Earth and Maps, eventually someone will happen upon something interesting among the millions of photos in the Google imagery database. Here we have not one, but two different submarines at sea – not under water, but moving along at a high rate of speed (from the looks of their wakes) at the surface. No, these are not live photos. In fact, the sub coming out of Tokyo Bay (Maps view) in Japan was first found back in August of 2005 – the image is older than that. The second sub (Maps view) is a Ming-class sub from China headed back to base. Very surprising when you consider Google doesn’t show much of the seas on our planet with high res satellite photos.
There are some great web sites for finding interesting places in the maps programs. For example, the Chinese sub I found on Google Earth Hacks ( which has been dedicated to allowing people to find Google Earth places, and KML files since Google Earth was first released. Google Earth Hacks also provides links for Google Maps for single placemarks. The sub from Japan was found at Virtual Globe Trotting ( which not only shows Google Earth and Maps, but also Microsoft Live Local (or Virtual Earth), and Yahoo Maps locations. Each of these sites are a great way to get a gallery of screenshots showing interesting places you can find from satellite and aerial photos. I also often highlight cool things written about at the GoogleSightseeing ( blog – this blog does a great job of writing about interesting discoveries in the Google imagery every day. I recommend checking them out whenever you’re looking to browse the world for interesting sights.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. earthgoogler says:

    Neither of the two submarines is nuclear powered. The submarine leaving Tokio Bay is a Japanese diesel-electric submarine, either of the Yushio or the Harushio class.
    The Chinese submarine is a diesel-electric submarine of the Ming class.

  2. wow. soon, we’ll be seeing ourselves in Google Earth. 😀

  3. I thought the sub leaving Tokyo was a USN nuclear sub, no?

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