CHINA SHIPBUILDING INDUSTRY Corp. (CSIC) and Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Corp. (DSIC) are rushing to complete the construction of China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (seen above at her mooring dock in Dalian earlier this year) so the start of her sea trials can be trumpeted at the forthcoming Party congress. A stronger, more outward looking China is expected to be one of the themes of the meeting.
Outfitting work and system debugging of the 70,000-tonne Type 001A carrier, modelled on the Liaoning, a converted Soviet era carrier bought from Ukraine that is now in PLA-Navy service, are almost complete ahead of schedule, according to a defence ministry spokesman, and the power-systems tests have been completed.
DSIC’s chairman, Liu Zheng, told a company Party meeting last month that the shipbuilder would “greet the 19th CPC National Congress by delivering key achievements on a special product in this special time”.
The timetable for the mooring trials is being telescoped so the carrier can set out to sea in time for the Party congress. Sea trials, which will test propulsion and communications systems under operational conditions, are the final phase before a vessel is handed over the navy to be commissioned into service.
From an April launch to September sea trials would be the blink of an eye in terms of aircraft carrier production, but a signal of the symbolic important Beijing places on its first home-built carrier.
Meanwhile, the first of the successor generation of carriers, the Type 002, is under construction in Shanghai yards.