China’s first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier known only as “Type 001A” started sea trials from Dalian port in Liaoning province. The ship’s engine, propulsion and navigation systems will be tested at sea for first time, a year after it was officially launched. The name of the carrier was not revealed at the launch ceremony, but it is speculated that it will be named Shandong after province of same name.
The Type 001A carrier was constructed by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation in Dalian. Its design is based on the Soviet Union’s Kuznetsov class and refined and advanced version of Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier constructed from incomplete Kuznetsov-class vessel. It is expected to be commissioned by 2020.
It measures about 315 metres long, with displacement capacity of about 55,000 tonnes (70,000 loaded). The ship is powered by conventional oil-fired boilers driving eight steam turbines, a design copied from the Soviet TB-12 engines used by its sister ship. It is capable of carrying 38 to 40 aircrafts.
The Type 001A was built as part of China’s ambitious plans to modernise its navy as it presses its claims in disputed regional waters. It will give China second aircraft carrier as it asserts its claims in South China Sea and seeks to deter any independence movements in Taiwan.
The possession of home-grown aircraft carrier places China among few military powers with such vessels, including United States, Russia and Britain. China’s sole operational aircraft carrier, Liaoning is a repurposed USSR (Soviet) ship bought from Ukraine, which went into service in 2012.