26 September 2023

False: Retired Chinese submarine is a moored tourist spot; it’s not grounded by flooding

This submarine “349” was converted to a museum ship at Zhejiang’s sightseeing base in 2013 and could be boarded by tourists.


A video showing a submarine lodged in a mudbank went viral on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, on Aug. 3, with a claim that the vessel with Chinese national flags was flushed to the shore by floods.

Various users who posted the same video mocked President Xi Jinping for failing to mitigate the floods.

The video was also shared in Japanese, claiming the submarine was flushed there by typhoon. Together, the posts gathered close to 4,500 likes and over 1,000 retweets in just one day.

Severe floods devastated Beijing, Hebei and many other areas in northern China as the region was hit by extreme levels of rainfalls brought by super typhoon Doksuri.

On Aug. 3, residents of the capital city experienced record-breaking rainfall, the highest in 140 years, according to the Associated Press, resulting in at least 20 deaths.

However, the claims are false.

The submarine in question was not flushed to the shoreline by flooding. It is a retired vessel that has remained in the same location at Daqiao Park in Taizhou’s Jiaojiang district, Zhejiang province, for years after being converted into a military tourist site.

Reverse image search led us to an article on Sohu about a student summer military camp showing a similar submarine with national flags and a bridge behind the sub.

The national flag of China and the bridge were seen in both the Sohu photo (left) and the viral video (right).

A keyword search of the word “submarine” in Chinese and “349”, which is visible on the sail of the sub, yielded many results showing “Jiaojiang submarine sightseeing base.”

Although the video in question seems to be flipped horizontally as compared to another Douyin clip, we could tell it was the same sub at the same location from the visual clues seen in both clips, including a building under construction in the background.

The Douyin video of the sightseeing base (left) shows the same features seen in the viral video (right) in a reversed direction.

Many articles or posts written by tourists that were published in 2016, 2021 and two months ago indicate that the submarine has been in the same position all these years. In the 2021 footage, the submarine could be seen in a tilted position as well.

The decommissioned submarine was seen in the same location since 2016. The surrounding water was shallow and sometimes muddy.

According to a news report by local media Taizhou online, the diesel-electric sub was decommissioned in 2011 after 29 years of service.

It was then converted into a museum ship that tourists are allowed to embark on. The sightseeing base has been in operation since Sept. 5, 2013, according to a social media account of the Jiaojiang government.

Taizhou’s Water Conservancy Bureau activated a level-four emergency response for flood relief on July 26 for Doksuri and lowered the response level for another typhoon Khanun on Aug. 2.

Netizens uploaded clips to video platforms showing the high waves on Taizhou’s coastline when approached by Khanun.