The dark hulls of two of China's fleet of attack submarines emerged from the mist off the waters off the northern port of Qingdao.
The ships were on show to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Navy.
China's President Hu Jintao watched the international naval review from the bridge of a Chinese destroyer as 21 ships and naval aircraft from China and 14 foreign navies took part in the East China Sea.
The Chinese President has played down any implied threat posed by an expanding Chinese Navy.
His country would never threaten other nations or seek regional dominanace and its military "will always be a force for the preservation of world peace", Mr Hu said.
But this was an event that once again highlighted Beijing's ambitions to develop its deepwater fleet in this volatile region.
This most secretive military power rarely reveals its steel fist but the imposing sight of its new navy at sea will prove disquieting to its regional neighbors.
The Chinese Navy with its 250,000 sailors submariners and airmen already operates more submarines that any other Asian nation,with 10 nuclear-powered vessels and as many as 60 diesel electric subs.
The Northern Pacific region has traditionally been part of the U.S.'s security umbrella and the growing strength of the Chinese Navy poses a potential challenge in these waters.
There is also concern about possible plans for the construction of China's first aircraft carrier that would vastly increase the reach of China's fleet.
U.S. Navy Chief, Admiral Gary Roughead - present at Thursday's celebrations — has warned that China's neighbours are worried.
"If it is not clear what the intent of the use of the aircraft carrier is, I would say that it may cause concern with some of the regional navies and nations," he said.