Last September, two Chinese diplomats were expelled from the U.S. after they barged into a U.S. Navy base in Virginia. The base in which they illegally entered houses the shooting ranges for all the East Coast SEAL Teams.

The Chinese diplomats, one of who is reported to be an intelligence officer operating under a diplomatic alias, entered the Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story, which is a sub-installation of the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.

The two Chinese were accompanied by their wives. They drove to Fort Story, where the gate guards told them to pass through the gate, make a U-turn and leave the base. Instead, they entered the base, but continued to drive on until they were intercepted by base security. The two Chinese officials claimed as their reason for not obliging with the guards’ instructions, that they didn’t understand the English commands — a rather interesting excuse for personnel attached to the Chinese Embassy in the U.S.

The New York Times found out from anonymous State Department sources that the two Chinese officials were expelled soon thereafter, becoming the first Chinese diplomats to receive such treatment in more than three decades.

Fort Story includes the shooting ranges of the Naval Special Warfare Group 2 (NSWG 2). NSWG 2 includes all the even-numbered SEAL Teams (SEAL Team 2, SEAL Team 4, SEAL Team 8 and SEAL Team 10). These SEAL Teams are based in Little Creek, which is approximately a twenty-minute ride from Fort Story. Little Creek also houses Naval Special Warfare Group 4 (NSWG 4), Naval Special Warfare Group 8 (NSWG 8) and Naval Special Warfare Group (NSWG 10).

Among other units and commands, Fort Story houses the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit 10, Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Training and Evaluation Unit 2, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, which is the Navy’s main research and development facility for underwater weapon systems (submarines, autonomous underwater systems, underwater weapons, etc.).

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SEAL Team 6, also known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), is headquartered in NAS Oceana Dam Neck Annex. Dam Neck is approximately 10 miles south of Fort Story. DEVGRU is the Navy’s direct action counterterrorism Special Mission Unit (SMU) and falls under the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). DEVGRU has its own state-of-art shooting ranges.

The Chineses’ motives for barging in the base haven’t been disclosed. Driving around the base with Navy MPs hot on their heels wouldn’t allow for effective intelligence gathering. It is, thus, more probable that they were trying to study the base’s reaction time and security response.

China has been conducting an aggressive intelligence campaign in the U.S. and other Western countries for at least two decades.