Shanghai shipyard 'to build second Chinese designed aircraft carrier'

Work on China's secondlocally designed and built aircraft carrier will soon get under way at Jiangnan Shipyard, overseas reports says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 October, 2014, 3:31am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 October, 2014, 8:24am

China will soon start building its second locally designed aircraft carrier in Shanghai, according to a Canadian report.

Kanwa Asian Defence, an English-language monthly defence review produced in Toronto, said Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard was preparing to start work on the carrier.

When completed, the carrier and another under construction in Dalian will give the PLA Navy two fully functioning, battle-ready aircraft carriers.

The recently completed Liaoning, the refitted former Soviet carrier Varyag, is classed as a training platform, not a full combat vessel, by the navy, since it went into service in September 2012.

Counter to many expectations, the new carrier about to be built at the Jiangnan Shipyard will use conventional, not nuclear power.

The report was also carried in the Chinese-language sister publication, Kanwa Defence Review.

Military experts said China would not attempt a nuclear-powered carrier until a range of issues were resolved, such as the reliability of nuclear-powered engines, crew training and establishing a reliable home port for carrier maintenance.

According to the report, Chinese shipbuilding industry sources said the design for the second carrier had not been completed.

The Kanwa report countered earlier predictions by Western analysts that the new carrier would be nuclear-powered, like the planned Soviet Ulyanovsk-class carrier.

The Ulyanovsk was slated to be Moscow's first nuclear-powered supercarrier, with an 85,000-tonne displacement. But like the Varyag, the ship was never completed and the hull was scrapped in 1992.

Last year, China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, the largest state-owned shipbuilder, said Beijing had approved funding to develop core technology for nuclear-powered ships, which to many observers indicated plans to build nuclear-powered carriers.

Li Jie , a military expert in Beijing, said China already had experience with maritime nuclear power, but so far the technology was restricted to the PLA's growing submarine fleet.

"Compared with submarines, a carrier is much bigger. It will take time for our nuclear engineers to develop a safe and powerful engine capable of driving a huge platform of more than 100,000 tonnes," Li said.

The first locally designed carrier is being built in Dalian, where the Liaoning was completed in a decade-long fit-out.

The Dalian Shipyard completed the new carrier's steel plate cutting ceremony at the end of last year.