Home » Budget Industry » First Chinese Domestic Aircraft Carrier Leaves Yard for Sea Trials

First Chinese Domestic Aircraft Carrier Leaves Yard for Sea Trials

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier leaves the pier at the Dalian shipyard on May 13, 2018. Xinhua Photo

China’s first homebuilt aircraft carrier has left for its first set of sea trials on Sunday, according to state-controlled media.

The yet-unnamed Type 001A carrier was unmoored and moved by tugs from its berth at the Dalian shipyard and headed out to sea, according to photos released by the state-controlled Xinhua News Agency said on Sunday.

“The sea trials will mainly test the reliability and stability of the carrier’s power system and other equipment,” the state-controlled agency said.
“Construction on the carrier has been carried out as planned since it was launched in April last year, and equipment debugging, outfitting and mooring tests have been completed to make it ready for the trial mission at sea.”

The length of the trials was not announced but a local notice to mariners restricted a portion of the Yellow Sea near the shipyard from Sunday to Friday.

One naval analyst told USNI News the trials are another one of China’s incremental steps into developing an industrial base to field a blue-water navy.

“This news shows the result of China’s long-term investment aimed at enhancing their naval capabilities. This investment began over a decade ago and is now paying serious dividends as their naval forces and capabilities continue to grow rapidly in both power and complexity,” Eric Wertheim, naval analyst and author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World, told USNI News.

“This is also an indication that China seeks to expand its power projection capabilities well beyond their current reach. Aircraft carriers play an important role in naval operations both in terms of their combat power and as a symbol of presence. China will no doubt seek to continue expanding their naval capabilities well into the future.”
The estimated 55,000-ton carrier is modified from the original Admiral Kuznetsov-class Russian design used for the first Chinese carrier Liaoning. The new carrier will also feature the short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) configuration of its Soviet-era carrier test platform.

The Type-001A will be the first test of an emerging Chinese industrial capability to build larger warships, Hu Wenming, chairman of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, said on state television on Sunday via the South China Morning Post.

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier leaves the pier at the Dalian shipyard on May 13, 2018. Xinhua Photo

“We have already developed a team of experts in the research, design and construction [of aircraft carriers], and their average age is just 36,” Hu said.
“In the future, if the country wants to develop any type of aircraft carrier, we have the capability to do it.”

Hu said in the interview the carrier program was a test of a new plan of military and civilian personnel working together on larger projects.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that China was building a larger estimated 88,000-ton carrier outside of Shanghai.

In the past, officials have said Beijing’s goal was to eventually build a force of up to four aircraft carriers.

  • Ed L

    So one more thing to worry about along with their carrier killer missiles and 80,000 plus sea mines

    • Duane

      How many killed carriers are required before one can label such a missile a “carrier killer”?

      I would think that the Chinese would have to be able to prove that one of their missiles could actually find, track, and at least hit a carrier sized, 30+ knot maneuvering ship from 1,000 nm out under a multi destroyer/cruiser AEGIS unbrella and a cloud of anti-ballistic missiles of various types fired at it before one gets to call it a “carrier killer.”

      Besides, ASM missiles aren’t very good at “killing”, or sinking, any ships. They might, if one or several hit a smaller ship, knock it out of action. But it takes a torpedo, usually, to sink a ship. Several torpedoes, actually, to sink a 100,000+ ton monster like a CVN.

      Heck, in 2016 the Houthis successfully got a hit from a Chinese C-802 ASCM on a UAE Swift boat, an unarmed, small, unarmored fast auxiliary boat, and even such a soft target as that only got dinged up a little, and was not even knocked out of action by a direct hit, let alone not “killed” or sunk.

      The point being that to do any significant damage requires that even a successfully targeted ASM needs to detonate on, or in, a vital space to take out a ship.

      • D. Jones

        Thank goodness they are not working on ALCSM missiles!

      • Mu’ammar Abdur-Rashid

        Still, It’s a good thing that the DDG Flight III’s “equipped with AN-Spy-6 radar” are under construction. This ship alone will give us more time to intercept any Chinese ASM.

      • NR

        If you are saying the Incat-built HSV-2 swift that took a missile hit was just “dinged up” I’d hate to see what you call substantial damage. The swift was gutted/burned out and lucky not to sink. Now I agree it faired pretty well for an aluminum construction commercial boat. The British would certainly disagree that anti-ship missiles aren’t very good at sinking ships.
        Now sinking a frigate or small destroyer is a totally different ball game than a 100k ton behemoth. Unfortunately for the Navy taking a carrier out of action really only requires wrecking the flight deck but that is certainly much easier said than done.

        • DaSaint

          It’s pretty hard to sink a catamaran or trimaran, vs a monohull, which may actually be one of the saving graces of its all-aluminum construction.

          • NR

            Agreed. We shouldn’t forget that Bradley IFVs are aluminum hulled and the Army feels they are still one of the hardest vehicles in it’s class to kill. There are certainly pros and cons to the material choice.
            They aren’t intended to be put up against enemy destroyers/frigates/aircraft. We can’t afford to build every ship in the fleet as an armored dreadnought. In WWII we built hundreds of destroyers that had virtually no chance in direct combat with cruisers and battleships but they had an important role to play regardless. We need hulls for less demanding tasks now just as we did then.

          • Centaurus

            Perhaps even a “Caveman” come to think of it !

        • Duane

          ASCMs have very, very few sinkings, even against small warships. The typical ubiquitous Silkworm or Exocet and their equivalenrs are a fairly dumb weapon that is lucky to hit any part of a target vessel, having no ability to target and hit a specific vulnerable part of a vessel, such as its bridge, magazine, or powerplant. No ASCM has the ability to go under a ship and explode under the keel, breaking its back, which is the only means of assuring a quick sinking rather than just taking damage.

          Our most advanced ASCM, LRASM, uses passive imaging IR to discriminate between targets and to pick out and hit the most vital spot on a target vessel. We are ahead of our enemies in that regard for now, but we must assume they will eventually catch up. So ASCMs will get more lethal over time. And of course, countermeasures will be developed to defeat the imaging IR seekers.

          • NR

            My point was really more about what defines an effective attack…Does a burned out ship or one with no functional radar etc. give you any combat power? The ship doesn’t have to be sunk to be out of action. I agree a torpedo is in a different class of ship wrecking potential. Keel shots are kill shots.
            I would agree that a single ASCM isn’t likely to sink a ship and history has shown that but capable peer competitors won’t be launching just one missile. There just aren’t any conflicts to review where waves of missiles were launched. You could argue the Israeli navy fighting in the Med or the Iran Iraq war are examples but none of them were really capable of launching attacks on the scale we are looking at in a major conflict.
            I guess it boils down to the old argument between offensive and defensive arms. Can the fighter screen, anti missile defenses and countermeasures stop a large scale concentrated attack.

          • Duane

            It seems to me that ASCMs are the munition du jour today because that is what technology has delivered to date and that is what most of the world’s navies have invested in because they are dirt cheap (compared to their targets) and easy to deploy on any vessel from a coastal patrol to an AEGIS cruiser or destroyer. But before ASCMs came along, all the world’s navies invested in ever larger guns until lightweight and cheap carrier based bomber aircraft made battleships obsolete at the beginning of WW2.

            ASCMs are useful state of the art munitions today, but they are not the “ship killers” they are made out to be, and before long another weaps development, such as lasers or rail guns, is likely to make ASCMs just as obsolete in a few years as big guns became in the last great naval war.

            I hope our weaps developers are getting close to doing just that. Either that transpires, or ubiquitous cheap ASCMs could end up making all surface warships obsolete.

          • One thing people always neglect is just how difficult it is to coordinate a large attack. Historically, they have almost always devolved into small groups of uncoordinated planes attacking over an extended period of time. Further, unlike planes, missiles can’t come back and try again, so you need to be certain of your target before launching.

          • Centaurus

            Countermeasures like setting fire to a lot of rowboats as “IR chaff” ? Hmm, that sounds like a pretty good idea now that I’m ‘thinking’.

      • SDW

        Let’s be sure that we aren’t talking about a single missile or a few of a single type / flight profile launched against a Carrier SG or some other simple, unrealistic scenario. It also comes down to costs. With two Standards launched against each tracked incoming missile the exchange ratio increasingly benefits the attacker. The calculations are complex as are the results.

        • One Standard per incoming missile – look at the numbers from the Yemen attacks.

          • SDW

            Yes, I mistakenly said 2 against every incoming. That isn’t always the case but it does depend on the threat assessment. I also meant but wasn’t clear that I was referring to scenarios in which a CG and DDG or two had to cover the entire CSG, including themselves. Lets just say that for some foreseeable scenarios more than one Standard is expended. If they have to do it again the next day the inventory begins to look bleak.

            During the 9 OCT 2016 incident, the USS Mason fired two SM-2s and an Evolved Sea Sparrow against two incoming cruise missiles reported as Chinese-built YJ-82s (with 0.9 Mach speed). Not all details have come out officially but other countermeasures such a the Nulka were reportedly used.

          • I’m really not concerned about the number of defensive weapons. Figure around 60 Standard/ESSM per Aegis ship and your average 4 escort CSG has 240 defensive missiles. Add additional escorts and multiple CSG’s working together and you can hit 1000 defensive missiles pretty quickly. And those are really your second line of defense as the Hornets should be shooting down attacking planes before they can launch.

            Against that, the entire PLANAF can only launch about 360 AShM. The PLAN surface force has another 820 or so, but those ships are badly outranged by carrier air and have no speed advantage over a CSG, so they shouldn’t achieve any more than battleships and cruisers did in WWII.

            It’s the offensive side that is more troubling as things look similar when you flip the scenario around and run the numbers for the USN attacking the PLAN. A single 052 has 48 defensive missiles – which is about what a CVW can put in the air at once. The only answers I’m seeing is loading dozens of ASuW Tomahawks on every destroyer, or developing a weapon the Chinese can’t detect/intercept (maybe hypersonics?).

      • Centaurus

        The Houthis were just drunk on that particular day…from all the Khat that those wiggy-hair
        ‘stards had been chewin’ !!!

  • PolicyWonk

    The Chinese say they’re building four carriers?

    It’s a pretty solid bet they’re planning on building eight…

    • D. Jones

      “We have already developed a team of experts in the research, design and construction [of aircraft carriers], and their average age is just 36,” Hu said.

      Nearly all US-educated or taught by US-educated professors. Go to any top tech campus and look at the demographics of STEM students. The Chinese presence is jaw-dropping. Ask amy STEM student how many of their associate profs were Chinese. Twofold advantage as non-Chinese students can barely understand the instructor, setting us further back. Much less an issue with other foreign teachers. This has been going on for decades.

      We’re more absorbed with lawyers and stick & ball wunderkind.

      • PolicyWonk

        The USA’s education and Pell Grant budgets started deteriorating during the Reagan Administration, and these were so draconian that it inspired the editors of Aviation Week, Proceedings, and other defense industry trade rags to jointly author an editorial imploring the Reagan Administration to restore education funding across the board.

        Among their predictions, would be a deficit of qualified American-citizen engineers to work on defense projects, that would necessitate our hiring of non-American-born citizens into our defense establishment (check!), reliance on our allies nations for technologies (check!), a dramatic increase on espionage of American technologies (check!), an ignorant workforce (check!), and a loss of technological edge to potential adversaries (check!).

        The defense establishments complaints and pleas were ignored by the Reagan Administration, and while there were some attempts to increase budgets in interim years, this nation has yet to recover from that short-sighted decision.

        And this nation is now suffering the consequences. If you think education is expensive: try ignorance.

        • D. Jones

          If we’re going to have a bumper sticker quote war, I’ll counter with, “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a soldier”

          Anyway, Pell Grants didn’t start until 1965, and the guys who put a man on the moon, invented the computer and zillions of other things were edumacated pre-1965. Most kids worked during high school, younger ones delivering newspapers. Somewhere along the way we got kids spending time at sports camps day-long and year-round activity-scheduling and more and more idiot box programming (think MTV after the transitioned from showing music videos, the first 5 years of which were pretty creative). Add in being taught by lefty teachers (in 7th grade we spent more time on the Supreme Soviet than US Congress) and things got worse.

          Look at who kid’s heroes were in the 60’s? Astronauts.

          Look who kids lionize now? Primadonna knee-taking “athletes” and trash-talking “musicians”

          Result? The SAT had to be changed because scores plummeted (so much so that it was decertified as a qualification for membership in mensa in the early 90’s).

          It’s not a product of starving teachers (look at the cost / student in DC). Look at the Illinois pension which has former educators pulling in over $24K/month.

          (Ugh, long post, to be continued)

          • PolicyWonk

            We are in agreement.

          • D. Jones

            Illinois Top 100 education pensions:

            forthegoodofillinois org/wp-content/uploads/All-Time-100-Pensions-IL-TRS.pdf

            Anyway, bottom line is our educational product (students) is in decline at a time when (thanks to computers) it should be soaring. Plenty of causes.

            Cash hungry (ever been in grant wars at a university?) schools take whoever can generate the most income via:

            1) grants (need smart kids, Asian kids are as a rule, atop the heap)

            2) sports (need athletic kids to persuade alumni to relive their unrealized athletic prowess through donations)

            3) selling off names of buildings, programs, chairs etc. to alumni that somehow hit the jackpot and are willing to pay to have their massive egos salved by pseudo-fame.

            Education has become a for-profit industry, where turning out well-rounded, smart kids is incidental.

            China, on the other hand, picks kids with potential (IQ) to be good STEM and they send them here to top universities, where they work themselves to death to avoid disgracing the family, then return home to China to teach other kids fo build missiles powerful enough to sink the vaunted LCS.

            This all started after Jack Welch and others started outsourcing stuff to the then cheap Chinese labor market in the 80’s. China now had the bucks to send kids by the boatload to our top engineering schools, supplanting our faltering home-grown students, who now can’t do math without a calculator, but can educate dumb old people about living wages.

        • SDW

          I’ve spoken to about two dozen kids 16-18 about “what they want to do when they grow up”. Only one answered, vaguely, with “Scientist”. I asked why, given the demand for technical types, the interest they have in their electronic devices, the relatively good pay and benefits, and so on. They all answered “science, engineering, and stuff like that are too hard”.

          I’ve concluded that what is keeping these kids from STEM pursuits was not that these subjects are too hard, rather, that the kids are too soft. Challenges are to be avoided, not overcome. To “follow their dream” (fantasy) is the only noble thing made even more noble by getting someone else to fund you.

          • Secundius

            Not just Kids, Corporations too! The Aurora Flight Sciences (i.e. Boeing owned) XV-24A “LightningStrike” got cancelled by DARPA. Because Aurora Flight Sciences didn’t want to pay for the Program. They wanted DARPA to Fund the Entire Program, while Aurora Flight Sciences reaped in the Rewards of the Technology gained by the program…

      • Mu’ammar Abdur-Rashid

        Exactly, This is one of reason’s why I started reading Daniel Golden’s “Spy Schools: How The CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence secretly exploit America’s University’s”. The Chinese have a track record of acquiring stolen tech and we have a track record of working with the same people, “not only the Chinese” who go to school here in the U.S. and then they go back to their native country and start working for their country’s government.

    • .Hugo.

      6 will be more realistic — 1 on maintenance, 1 on training, 1 on active standby, 3 on missions in the east sea/west pacific, the south china sea, and the indian ocean.

      • It would take around 9 carriers to keep 3 deployed.

    • Centaurus

      And those carriers might even float w/o water wings, yes ?

    • Durr

      Okay you have the carriers, but what about the support ships? Chinese Admiral- “Doh!”

      • PolicyWonk

        The ChiComs are building ships of all sizes and classes – rapidly. Including those required to support the logistical issues that come from operating a CSG. They’ve been studying the American model for decades – and now they have the money and technology to execute (hint: we GAVE it to them!).

  • SolarWarden

    SecNav and many many Admirals and ship building companies are very happy the ccp is building carriers and modernizing its navy.

  • johnbull

    This vessel is a little smaller than the QE 2 and P of W. What would be a reasonable estimate for number of strike planes, three dozen maybe?

    • .Hugo.

      we don’t know the actual size of the type 002 yet, but we know it is going to be heavier than the qe2 class by at least 20,000 tons, so it is not smaller than the qe2 class.

  • Taitennek

    So, the PRC Navy soon have (within 5-6 years or less) 6-8 cv’s as they seem to be able to construct them in about 1 year. I wonder how the US PACOM will deal with this.

    • Mr. Speaker

      With torpedoes

      • Centaurus

        Maybe even with Nookes on those torpeedoo-z ?

    • Ctrot

      The just launched carrier has been under construction for 4 years, the new Type 002 carrier isn’t expected to be launched for another 3 years with 3 more years of fitting out. Where do you get the idea they can build a CV in a year?

    • Duane

      Try one in 69 years.

      The PRC will build a few more, but these are little more than half the size of our CVNs, and vastly less capable. It will take the Chinese decades to learn how to operate a naval carrier fleet.

      • .Hugo.

        how will that be half the size when the type 002 carrier which is under construction is 85,000 tons while the uss gerald ford is 100,000 tons max?
        china is already operating a naval carrier fleet for training and testing and it has not been decades either. 🙂

  • Secundius

    Chinese Carrier is suppose to have Four Sets of Azipods for propulsion. And the Azipods have been giving the Chinese Shipbuilders and PLAN nothing but Headaches…

    • PolicyWonk

      Maybe they’re getting lousy azipods (Made in China?) – but they’ve been getting used for years on commercial ships for years without problems.

      • Secundius

        I guess we’ll have to see if a Fleet Tug is part of her escort ships screen…

        • PolicyWonk

          Well, they did base this ship on a Russian design ;-D

          • Secundius

            http : // warisboring . com / russian – soldiers – are – complaining – about – exploding – guns /

            Sorry about format, but first two got “Redacted”…

          • PolicyWonk


            While Russian weapons can represent formidable design, its often the workmanship that makes them almost as dangerous to their guys as it does the adversary.

            Such is what happens in a society were vodka is sometimes used as a method of payment for services rendered.

          • Secundius

            I’m just pointing out that Russian Quality Control “Hasn’t” gotten any better under Vladimir Putin leadership, then it was with the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin’s leadership…

          • PolicyWonk

            Well I certainly got your point (and agree with it).

            This is why the USSR tended to keep their weapons comparatively simple: they’re harder to screw up – and if they’re able to function reliably given their lousy manufacturing – they’re likely to function well on the battlefield.

          • Secundius

            Under the Soviet Union the NKVD/KGB use to Shoot Soviet Trooper from Behind, if they “Didn’t” face the Bullets coming from the Front. I don’t know whether the FSB follows the Same Doctrine…

          • PolicyWonk

            Its a lot harder today, even for Putin, when it comes to use of the Russian military. First of all, the Russian citizens are sick of body bags, which is why they have to resort to using mercenaries (we call them “contractors”) in Syria and Ukraine, etc., instead of regular troops.

            The other thing, is that Russia has economic problems from the sanctions imposed by Obama and the EU, as a result of their annexing of the Crimea (which is incredibly expensive), and invading of eastern Ukraine.

            Wars cost money, that Russia hasn’t got. And if they’re blowing money on wars, they cannot buy weapons, or modernize the ones they have.

          • SDW

            As I understand it… Russian conscripts cannot be ordered to go out of the country *but* they can sign a contract and serve, even as a unit of the regular army. Just how free a private is to refuse the contract offer is an speculation left for the reader.

            As to who pays? Go down the list of participants in Syria and look for those that have money–Syria and Iran. It doesn’t take a great leap to figure out who is paying the bill for the mercenary use of the Russian military.

          • Centaurus

            Perhaps the Cheese will install a battery-powered motor in the toy this time so that it doesn’t need to be wound-up every 500 NM. Oh….Cheese Naval Architecture has become such a high art , today !!!

          • Scott1945est

            Russia. Putting the “K” in “Kwality”.

    • .Hugo.

      where did you get that information from? china doesn’t use azipods on carriers but on icebreakers, and they are from europe.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    What I want to know is what’s good in the galley, amirite??!

    • Secundius

      Are you referring to the “Rice” compartments?

    • Durr

      The following phrase is normally heard in the line for chow: “Chinese again”
      And don’t even ask for Tang. Instead of a powdery orange drink, 15 personnel show up for muster.

      • Secundius

        Wrong again! “Chow” comes from the World First Can of Dog Food called “Chow Chow” in 1894…

  • gtman87

    I am assuming it does NOT have nuclear propulsion, correct? Now that would be a kick in the pants for the US.