China's second aircraft carrier in likely sixth sea trial, comprehensive tests expected: report
Published: May 26, 2019 04:11 PM

China's first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, docks at the shipyard of Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province on May 13, 2019. Photo: IC

China's second aircraft carrier seems to have embarked on its sixth sea trial on Saturday, judging from online videos, pictures, and an announcement of a military exercise in relevant waters. Military experts said on Sunday that the likely trial might feature comprehensive and final tests that could see the warship commissioned soon.

After a display of fireworks, China's first domestically built Type 001A aircraft carrier set out from the Dalian Shipyard in Northeast China's Liaoning Province under the assistance of multiple tug boats on Saturday, according to unverified videos and photos posted on Chinese social media on Saturday. Domestic news site also reported the possible move, citing online photos.  

The aircraft carrier's alleged movement coincided with a navigation restriction notice released by the Maritime Safety Administration of China. The notice, published on Friday, said a military mission is scheduled from Friday until May 31 in the Bohai Strait and northern part of the Yellow Sea just outside of Dalian, and other ships are prohibited from entering the designated area. According to the coordinates provided by the administration, the military mission covers a wide maritime area south of Dalian where the Type 001A is moored. 

Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Sunday that the likely sixth sea trial could feature comprehensive and final tests before the warship's commissioning into the People's Liberation Army Navy.

After the Type 001A conducted its fifth sea trial from late February to early March, it stayed in the Dalian Shipyard and underwent outfitting works including flight deck painting and conducted a replenishment drill within the shipyard with the supply ship Hulunhu in late April, media reported.

Li said the sixth sea trial could again test those problems that were encountered during previous trials and then solved during the past months.

"If the ship can smoothly finish this trial mission, it indicates that it is basically fit to be delivered," Li said.

This sea trial could be crucial, and it might be one of the final trials before the aircraft carrier's commissioning, Li said.

More than a year has passed since the domestically made carrier undertook its first sea trial on May 13, 2018. News website reported earlier this month that the ship will likely be commissioned within two months.