Carrier on maiden voyage

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2011, 12:00am


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China's first aircraft carrier set sail on its long-awaited maiden voyage yesterday, signifying a milestone in its ambition of developing a blue-water navy.

The former Soviet vessel Varyag left its shipyard in Dalian in the northeastern province of Liaoning to start its first sea trial in the northern waters of the Yellow Sea.

The voyage will inevitably spark unease among China's neighbours, especially Vietnam and the Philippines, whose long-standing territorial disputes with Beijing in the resource-rich South China Sea have flared in recent months.

Xinhua, quoting unnamed military sources, reported: 'The trial is in line with the carrier's refitting schedule and will not take a long time. Refitting work will continue after the vessel has returned to port.'

As the carrier left Dalian, all vessels were barred from entering a small section of sea off the port.

Although the report gave no hints on how long the sea trial would last, it was believed the Varyag would return by Sunday afternoon.