According to the PLA website, a submarine rescue unit was established as part of China's recent round of military reform to support a broader range of operations in the country's navy, step up the service's combat readiness, and deploy more submarines to the hotly-contested region.
"The army has to be prepared for battle," Ke Hehai, the political commissar of the unit, was quoted as saying by the PLA Daily on Thursday.
Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military affairs commentator, suggested that it was almost impossible for just one rescue team to provide a prompt and efficient response.
"It is a sign that the fleet is getting itself more ready for battle," Ni said. "Rescue squadrons are crucial in war."
The South Sea Fleet plays a key role in asserting China's territorial claim over the disputed waters, where many Southeast Asian nations also claim sovereignty.