Rare glimpse of life aboard the aircraft carrier Liaoning

Naval experts say latest pictures of nation's first aircraft carrier, released by the PLA, show how it has been transformed from its original design

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 3:40am

The People's Liberation Army Daily has revealed what China's first carrier, the Liaoning, looks like on the inside.

Western naval and shipbuilding experts say the hull's design is totally different from that of the ship from which it was adapted, the Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier Varyag.

High-resolution pictures carried by the newspaper yesterday showed areas such as the canteen, laundry room, broadcasting studio, post office, supermarket and medical centre, while feature stories explained how sailors on board had been trained and how they live.

It said naval officers and sailors had proposed more than 4,000 recommendations for improving the Liaoning since it entered service in September.

The report did not reveal how many sailors are on board the Liaoning, but said that more than 98 per cent of the bluejackets are university graduates, with nearly 18 per cent having master's degrees. The daily said some engineers were trained in Russia's naval engineering institute in Pushkin, St Petersburg.

Glimpses of the inside of the conventionally powered carrier were first provided by China Central Television and some mainland military websites, but the PLA Daily gives the first comprehensive view.

China bought the Varyag in 1998 from a shipyard in Ukraine after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The giant vessel arrived at Dalian port from Ukraine in March 2002.

Andrei Chang, who edits the Canadian-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly and has monitored China's aircraft carrier project for 20 years, said foreign naval and shipbuilding experts told him that Beijing had decided on the world's most expensive way to "reprogramme" the Varyag.

"We collected all related pictures and TV footage about the Liaoning that were disclosed by official media before to foreign naval experts, including shipbuilding specialists from Russia, Ukraine, Holland, Germany and France," he said.

"Experts from Russia and Ukraine told me that the inside of the Liaoning is completely different from the original structure of the Varyag, while German and French experts said they believed China had taken a very unusual step - reprogramming - to rebuild the original structure of the Varyag."