China’s first domestically-designed and locally-built aircraft carrier set sail for its second sea trial Sunday morning. Reports say the trial may have taken place from its home port of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning province.
Photos of the homemade seagoing airbase being towed out of its berth on a misty Dalian morning have been circulating online.
The giant ship has undergone a months-long dry dock check following its maiden sail in May. The photographs did not appear to show any aircraft or other noticeable equipment on its flight deck.
The Chinese vessel closely resembles the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s refurbished carrier the Liaoning, which was made in Ukraine before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Both ships sport upward-curved ramps on their bows for ski-jump take-offs. Unlike the US Navy’s more advanced flat-top carriers, this feature compensates for a runway that is shorter than optimum for fighter jets like the J-15.
Despite this, Chinese media have trumpeted a raft of indigenous technologies reportedly included in the new build. These range from a new power train to stealth technology, albeit built into what appears to be a replica of an antiquated Soviet hull design.
Meanwhile, the People’s Daily has suggested that the 70,000-ton warship could be named after the eastern province of Shandong that also borders the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea, where the latest sea trial took place.
The paper also cited a naval expert as saying that the second sea trial may have tested the carrier’s communications, navigation and other electronic and mechanical systems. Technicians will also iron out some teething issues that arose in the ten-day sea trial in May, during which the ship’s oil-fired boilers and steam turbines were put to the test with satisfactory results.
Meanwhile, state media admitted on Monday that three senior technicians were swept away when trying to stabilize a “vital experimental vessel platform” to prevent it from capsizing at a China Shipbuilding Industry Corp shipyard. The accident took place when severe typhoon Rumbia battered Dalian a week ago.
The three technicians were revealed to be a deputy director of a CSIC vessel institute based in the city, a project leader of the vessel platform and an electro-mechanical engineer. No further details of the vessel platform were provided, and it is unknown if it suffered any major damage.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the PLA’s top commander, has extolled the deeds of the fallen technicians as “exemplary devotion of Communist Party members willing to sacrifice their lives for their causes” and called on all party members and PLA servicemen to learn from their martyrdom.
Read more: Carrier rendezvous at Dalian Shipyard