The first Chinese made aircraft carrier is 100 percent ready to set sail, local news sources reported.
Once sea conditions reach a point that’s comfortable for admirals, the Chinese-made ship will be on its way to test the waters for the first time, according to the South China Morning Post. The enigmatic ship still has yet to be named. So far, she is only referred to by her technical classification, Type 001A.
She will displace 70,000 tons of water, measuring 315 meters in length and 75 meters in width. “Although the launch has been heralded by some as a sign that China is mastering naval technology, other military observers have noted China still only has about four percent of the United States’ naval capability,” according to a Monday report published in the SCMP.
The ship is being constructed at the Dalian Shipyard, a port in northern China’s Liaoning province that happens to share a border the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The launch of the aircraft carrier is imminent, since the ship’s hull appears complete and the construction scaffolding draping the ship has been taken down, according to an IHS Jane’s report.
China’s other aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, conducted live-fire drills for the first time in November of last year. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been aggressive in pursuing a larger and more assertive fleet.
The two aircraft carriers could be a small sign of things to come for the ambitious Chinese navy. Some analysts suspect PLAN is pursuing a fleet of more than 500 vessels, including subs, carriers, destroyers, amphibious vehicles, frigates and other naval hardware, Sputnik reported in January.
Some observers suggest sailing aircraft carriers thousands of miles for long periods of time — most US carriers only need to stop for one refueling during the entire course of the ship’s “shelf-life” — is a way for China to display and reinforce its ascendency to its status as a major global power.