China will soon start building its second locally designed
aircraft carrier in Shanghai, according to a Canadian report.
Chinese Internet, said Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard
was preparing to start work on the carrier.
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.
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 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,”
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.