Aircraft carrier Shandong wraps up maintenance, prepares for voyage
Published: Jul 03, 2022 06:39 PM
The picture shows aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya. China's first domestically-made aircraft carrier Shandong (Hull 17) was officially commissioned to the PLA Navy at a military port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, on the afternoon of December 17, 2019, making China one of the few countries in the world that have multiple carriers. Photo:China Military

The picture shows aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya. Photo:China Military

As China's second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, has reportedly left the port where it received its first scheduled maintenance since it was commissioned, analysts said on Sunday the domestically built carrier will be well prepared for far sea operations thanks to the refurbishment.

The Shandong was launched from the main dock of Dalian Shipyard in Northeast China's Liaoning Province on Friday after finishing the painting of coating and marking lines on the flight deck and the cleaning of the hull bottom, Shanghai-based news website reported on Saturday.

It is the Shandong's first scheduled maintenance that would enhance the ship's usability, the report said.

In addition to the visible changes, the Shandong has also likely received maintenance and refurbishment for some of its internal parts. They might even have been upgraded based on the experience accumulated from its acutal use, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.

The Type 901 comprehensive replenishment ship Hulunhu arrived at the Dalian Shipyard by Friday, and was moored near the Shandong, reported.

The Hulunhu could supply the Shandong before the latter embarks on a voyage, the above-quoted expert said.

After having completed the maintenance, the Shandong will be fully ready for missions to come, including those that could see the carrier team up with other warships, sail through the first island chain and hold intensive drills as the aircraft carrier Liaoning did in May, the expert said.

Led by China's first carrier the Liaoning, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy flotilla sailed through the Miyako Strait into the West Pacific and held intensive training with over 300 aircraft sorties south of Japan and east of the island of Taiwan for some 20 days in May, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry. Analysts said that this marked the longest and most sortie-intensive exercise by the Chinese carrier in the region, displaying the PLA's capabilities to deal with potential US or Japanese intervention in the Taiwan question amid wrong remarks made by the two countries.

The Shandong's maintenance started in late March, when the carrier set out from its homeport in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, sailed through the Taiwan Straits and then arrived at Dalian Shipyard, where the vessel was built, media reported at the time.

If the Shandong returns to its homeport after maintenance, it could again transit through the Taiwan Straits, observers said.

The Shandong was commissioned into the PLA Navy on December 17, 2019 in its Sanya homeport. Since then, it carried out a number of exercises in the South China Sea and the Bohai Sea, sailing through the Taiwan Straits several times in the process, media reported.