Beijing: China’s first indigenously-built aircraft carrier today successfully completed its maiden sea trial and returned to its home port in Dalian, a major step in the country’s quest to modernise its military and bolster its naval presence in the disputed South China sea and in the Indian Ocean.
China currently has two aircraft carriers. The first aircraft carrier named Liaoning, which was launched in 2012, was a refit of the former Soviet vessel bought from Ukraine.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy said that the aircraft carrier, built at the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, underwent a five-day sea trial starting from May 13.
Its sea trial tested multiple facilities and attained the anticipated objectives, state-run China Daily reported.
The completely home-grown aircraft carrier, named Type 001A for now, weighs 50,000 metric tonnes.
Earlier, the Chinese Navy said the sea trial aimed to demonstrate the reliability and capability of the ship’s propulsion systems.
Though Liaoning became operational in 2012, it is being mostly used for research and improvements for the new aircraft carriers China plans to build.
China is already building its third aircraft carrier in Shanghai. According to reports, plans are afoot to build a nuclear aircraft carrier.
China reportedly plans to have four aircraft carriers by 2030 to operate from the disputed South China Sea as well as the Indian Ocean.
The aircraft carriers are being built at feverish pace by China as it enhanced the role of its navy to increase its global influence.
With the advent of carriers, China’s power projection is expected grow in the disputed South China Sea and India’s backyard in the Indian Ocean.
China already has built a naval base at Djibouti in the Indian Ocean which is officially called a logistic base.
It has acquired the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka through a debt swap deal for a 99-year lease and is building a strategic port at Pakistan’s Gwadar in the Arabian Sea.
China made a late entry into the exclusive club of aircraft carriers which included India, the US, Russia, Britain, France, Italy and Thailand. These countries together operate 18 aircraft carriers.
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.
India has been operating the aircraft carriers since 1961. INS Vikrant which was purchased as an incomplete carrier in 1957 played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade of the East Pakistan in 1971 before it was decommissioned in 1997.
Its successor INS Virat commissioned in 1987 was decommissioned in March last year after an eventful four decades of service.
It was succeeded by INS Vikramaditya, a modified version of Russian ship Admiral Gorshikov which became operational in 2013.
The second INS Vikrant is being built in Cochin Shipyard. It was expected to be ready this year.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)