China's First Domestically Produced Aircraft Carrier Starts Sea Trials

China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier leaves for sea trials

The People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLA Navy) first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A Shandong (CV-17), began its maiden sea trial early Sunday morning, Chinese state media reported.

It is the first time the ship's engine, propulsion and navigation systems would be tested at sea, a year after it first took to the water at its official launch, state media said.

The ship, temporarily named Type 001A, was floated off in April 2017 after nearly 4 years of construction.

STOBAR-launched aircraft have a more limited operational range and carry lighter payloads than fighter jets launched from so-called Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) systems used on U.S. Navy carriers. China reportedly plans to have four aircraft carriers by 2030 to beef up its navy as it asserts its claims in the Indian Ocean and the disputed South China Sea.

Hu Wenming, chairman of China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, parent of Dalian Shipbuilding and chief of the new carrier program, told China Central Television that the new vessel is one of the advanced carriers in the world and its construction has strengthened the country's research and development capability regarding aircraft carriers.


The ship's chief engineering commander, Hu Wenming, told the broadcaster the carrier was smaller than US carriers' Nimitz class.

China previous year established its first overseas military base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, and its navy has recently deployed its ships further into the Pacific and Indian oceans. Liaoning's propulsion system being in relatively good condition when the aircraft carrier was acquired, the Chinese engineers were able to re-use most of its design while making necessary improvements on the few original design defects.

Footage aired by CCTV showed the imposing carrier accompanied by several smaller military craft leaving a wharf and heading out to sea. Chinese experts have said that the missions for the new carrier will be different from those for the Liaoning, which is mainly tasked with testing equipment and weapons as well as training personnel.

The vessel has more than 3,600 cabins.

The US is the largest operator as it runs 11 nuclear-powered carriers with each having a full-load displacement of about 100,000 tonnes.

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