China’s carrier sets sail for sea trials

China’s carrier sets sail for sea trials

The Chinese aircraft carrier Shi Lang put to sea for the first time on Wednesday, according to the state news agency, on what will likely be the first of many short trips as the ship’s crew and yard workers complete its refit. Although helicopters have taken off and landed on the Shi Lang while it’s been docked, it wasn’t clear from the reporting whether flight operations will be a part of this cruise. Chinese officials may not release images or information about fixed wing flight operations in particular until they’ve mastered them, so it could be weeks or months before the public learns what the ship can do.

By their own account, Chinese commanders consider the Shi Lang an experiment, at best, a training ship for their sailors and aviators. As the People’s Liberation Army-Navy learns what to do and what not to do in operating a carrier their way, those lessons will probably be incorporated into China’s own indigenous ships. As you’ve read here, China wants at least three more carriers, and between its own lessons and the ones it may have … ahem … borrowed from the U.S. Navy, there’s no telling what its home-grown ships could end up looking like.

Via Galrahn, here’s some interesting analysis about this from Andrew Erickson, who wonders about such things as the reliability of the Shi Lang’s propulsion plant — a carrier needs to be able to make itself go not only so it isn’t stranded at sea, but to create wind over the deck for its aircraft. Erickson also writes that, if you’re one of those  China Castration Anxiety, inevitable-decline-of-America types, it’ll be awhile before the PLA-Navy gets to parity with the U.S. Navy:

Prof. Robert Rubel (CAPT, Ret.), a former U.S. Naval Aviator who is now Dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the U.S. Naval War College, notes that between 1949, when jets started being deployed in large numbers by the U.S. Navy, until 1988, when the combined U.S. Navy/USMC accident rate was lowered to USAF levels, the naval services lost almost 12,000 aircraft and 8,500 aircrew. In 1954 alone, the Navy and Marines lost 776 aircraft and 535 crewmen and carrier-based tactical aviation suffered higher proportionate losses than the naval services as a whole.

To be sure, China has resolved some of the most fundamental physical issues involved in launching and landing aircraft from a small moving airfield, but the process remains immensely difficult and even a less-aggressive carrier operator than the U.S. is almost certain to suffer substantial unexpected losses of aircraft and crew as it works to build its operational knowledge and human capital. It remains uncertain what financial and political costs Chinese carrier aircraft losses will incur, but clearly the first Chinese carrier aviators and ship captains face steep challenges ahead. Still, after waiting over eight decades for a carrier of its own, China can afford to be patient and methodical in mastering its operation.

True on all counts. And if China really wants to copy American seapower, it needs to be able to field integrated carrier strike groups, complete with surface escorts and submarines. It may not want to, though, because as we’ve observed before, China’s nascent seapower isn’t designed for fighting the United States — yet. It’s for imposing its will on all its weaker neighbors in the Western Pacific, and communicating, as much internally as externally, that China is once again an expeditionary power.

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When people think of seapower, they tend to think of Britain in its heyday, Spain, Carthage, Athens and in recent years the US and Soviet Union, but a lot of folk do not realize that China has a maritime heritage as well. Google “Zheng He” and take a look at his technologically advanced fleet in comparison to the western ships and fleets at the time.

China has had a long hiatus, and the resources to provide a modern carrier-based battle fleet are very different from the fleet of gigantic multi-masted wooden junks, but… the China of today is very different from the Ming-dynasty China. The critical technologies are in the fields of electronics and nuclear power, instead of wooden shipbuilding and navigation. Dont discount China as anything less than a very capable, technically advanced, technologically agile and profoundly willing, but hopefully friendly, competitor in the seapower game.

I think that they have learned the hard lessons from the destruction of Admiral Zheng’s fleet!

It appears the ex-Varyag is sailing to join an already sizable naval force already at sea. They’ve cordoned off a fairly sizable chunk of ocean and created a no fly/sail area for the next 5 days where I assume she’ll be tested.

As usual the China Defense Blog is posting some great info on the first Chinese Aircraft Carrier.


While I’ll agree that this carrier is no threat to the USA, it will be of concern to the Asia/Pacific region (especially those in the South China Sea area), once it comes online.

We’ll just have to wait and see how China acts in the years to come, and hope they keep their word of non-aggression, however we (the wider community) should also prepare for the worst, just in case.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we export all of our jobs and strategically important industries to communist Red China, and then f up our weapons procurment system so that we pay defense contractors more to screw us than we do if they come in with good weapons on time and on budget, then we’ll all sit around and tell each other how China is not a threat. Oh wait, that’s what we are doing. Must be working well, because I don’t see anything that would indicate the status quo is changing any time soon.

Why americans considering china like an enemy?

Don’t forget to out-source congress which costs a lot of money to keep them.

“considering china like an enemy?” (momomimamo) . . . “COMMIES!!!” — DHOP~! Ever figure out the commie agenda — OVERTHROW CAPITALISM? sheeesh

Good luck with that “no fly, no sail area” if it’s in international waters. ;-)


They are more capitalist than you can imagine ;-)

Maybe he means they are a one party dicatorship “Communism with Chinese Characteristics” which may be the same as National Socialism? And they have military aspirations to scare off its neighbor countries to attain as much of the South China Sea area that they can for natural resources exploitation. Doing so they will have to push the US Navy eastward…

It seems to me that the Chinese would need to deploy two or three Shi Lang class carriers to equal one of our Nimitz or Ford class carriers? With the escorts. Agree or disagree?

A few years back, in a VERY different administration, there was that little no-fly, no-sail area in the Gulf of Sidra. Seems that Qhadafi scrambled a couple of Sukois to enforce his unilateral decree and they got “cat-scratched”! LOL! Today though I think the Chinese zone is pretty safe.

Anyway, its not all that unusual to declare a piece of ocean “dangerous” for some period of time because of naval maneuvers, missile tests, etc. We do it with the Pacific Missile Test Range all the time.

Being an old Soviet design, the Shi Lang is probably going to be the only ship of it’s class. Who knows if the first carrier they build themselves will be conventional or nuclear?

Equal? For what purpose are you speaking? Sailing in formation with a Nimitz CBG is one thing, launching a strike against a Nimitz CBG in the open blue ocean, pressing it home, (and getting away with it) is another thing entirely!

Communist China is not our friend and the sooner we get over that fact (and our hurt feelings) the better.

Friends do not develop plans, methods and weapons to attack our CBGs
Friends do not talk publicly about attacking our CBGs
Friends do not “claim” large areas of the ocean as their own territory– S China Sea
Friends do not harass and force our plans to land on their territory and then clean out all of the secret gear inside
Friends do not harass and ram our oceanographic ships at sea
Friends do not claim international waters out to 200nm as their territory

The Chinese are trying to OVERTHROW CAPITALISM?!

I can only infer that you mean to say that they believe in the ‘NEW COMMIE AGENDA’ doctrine of fighting fire with fire.

“sheeesh”, indeed…

China is not long on innovation. And the jump from a brown water navy of relatively small surface combatants; to a blue water carrier battle group is almost incalculable. Carriers have been in development for 80 years or so and even the U.S. is still learning. It’s very hard to imagine this country of primarily peasant farmers moving into carrier aviation in a big way for some time to come.
I’m trying to imagine how they’ll defend this carrier and even the next few; if there are that many.
China is a country still, that manufactures (because of cheap labor) other countries goods. Most of their population lives out the manufacturing districts.
I doubt our children’s grand children will have to fear Chinese carrier aviation; perhaps Chinese missiles.

Were you frozen 25 years ago and just unthawed? Because the world has changed just a little bit since then.

I imagine if you are talking about the quality of the crews, pilots, etc., the exchange rate would be somewhat more than 2:1. : )

“unthawed”…that would mean he is still frozen. Just saying.

I agree. The United States learned how to operate its carriers through long experience. Our superb carrier Navy today is the product of decades of accumulated skills, insights, and lessons learned through exercises, drills, and combat operations.

The Chinese are just starting the process. Reading a book about what we Americans do is no substitute for accumulating their own hands-on experience. However, they have an additional handicap: The loss of aircraft and their crews is a lamentable but inevitable part of the process, but both are far more expensive and valuable than they once were. How many of either can the Chinese afford to lose for the sake of lessons learned? And for that matter, can they afford their own Forrestal disaster?

An effective navy does not spring up overnight. I’m not too worried.

Looking at the map of the no sail/fly area it looks like its just off the coast Dalian and your comparison to the Pacific Missile Test Range zone of exclusion is appropriate.

This isn’t that big a deal. They’ve said they wanted carriers, said they were refurbing this one, not a big deal except that it’s the day they floated their carrier out of port. Just means their neighbors can confident China is looking to settle territorial disputes through intimidation and that we need to continue on a path to deterring them.

One of the nasty things about combat, naval or otherwise, is that the end result is often not quite the expected.

Consider the “on paper” answer to the question of the Japanese battle fleet and Kido Butai versus the US pacific fleet at Midway. The ledger would have shown a run-away victory for the Japanese. Anyway, speaking to combat in terms of exchange rate reminds some of us all too much of the McNamara era and the futility of counting body bags.

Could a credible Chinese carrier fleet (3 CVNs plus this one) pose a strong political power in the Pacific comparable to the US PacFleet carriers. Certainly! Could it go toe to toe? Certainly! Would the result probably be much like Midway, at least until they develop the same level of operational expertise? Almost certainly, .… . but consider for a moment who had the most expertise in carrier warfare at Midway! :-)

Don’t learn the lessons how to operate AC like this: http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​_​M​V​X​R​n​g​2​V​C​c​&​a​m​p​;fe

Since the “Opium Wars,” the Chinese (and Ruskie) communists have been staged to be the European Banksters’ “carrier-killer” missile to tank our ship of state. Perhaps, I should have said “FREE WORLD.” :-) But valid points all — (esp. JRL — fire with fire), and please consider our current economic meltdown. Nukes were just too messy (so far). So, welcome to eufrrprc, where one-world order is the daily special, and the war is ON, and is one of financial (capitalistic) conquest.

Welcome also to the third world (financial/cyber) WAR. Socrates is right, but think where they received their training. The “money masters” out of the “City of London” — not to be confused with London City have planned this outcome for hundreds of years. Do you think the Brit Royals & European Oligarchs ever forgave US for the revolution or for world dominance?

Yep — cold as ice as far as commies/oligarchs/one-worlders go! BTW, I have no problem with a new-world order as long as we’re all FREE and WE (United States) are running it.

I was thinking with an equal number of escorts that to have the ability to launch an equal number of fighters they would need two Shi Lang class carriers launching simutaneously to equal one Nimitz. I read on a Drudge Report link that the Shi Lang will have 50 fighters vs the Nimitz class having 90 fighters. So the Chinese could attempt to duplicate one of our carrier battle groups and then in the cent of it have two Shi Lang type carriers instead of the one Nimitz class we have.

* “center of it…”

Having the “toys of the trade” is only a small part of the issue. Few today would not accept the fact that a MiG-15 had a significant technical advantage over the F-86, plane-o-plane in Korea, but the mano-o-mano kill ratio was all on the side of the F-86s, except perhaps when Russian pilots were in the MiG’s! Even if the Chinese CBG was able to field the same number of aircraft, it would not really be much of a fair fight. They are right now at the same place in terms of learning about using CBGs in combat as we were when we launched the USS Langley! They can learn a lot from the open literature generated over 90-plus years of Attack Carrier operations, but they are a long way from playing hard ball in the major league show!

Here here… Friends also don’t surface SSK’s within a battlegroup to prove if you can (but we zorched one of them little suckers!!!).

We need to keep in mind; that the historic Chineese mindset is that if you are not Chineese; you are a lesser race/species as stated by Mao.

What if the scenario isn’t vs us but the Phillipines, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Micronesia, Indonesia, Thailand, or India? Would we always insert ourselves in one of these disputes with one of our CBGs?

PRECISELY! Even a single carrier in a CBG offshore from a country lacking the same capability becomes a real issue that must be addressed. Land based air power, ASGMs, submarines, etc can all come into play, but a CBG is a major threat if the negotiations turned ugly. The Chinese CBG(s) are political instruments, not really a “counter” to the USN, at least not for a LONG time!

As for the USN intervening… are you considering a Reagan-esqe or a Carter-esque administration in DC at that future date?

I’m hoping for a Reagan-esqe Administration in 2012!! :-)

I think we already outsourced congress. When they aren’t looking out for Saudi Arabia’s best interests, they’re coddling their buddies in communist China. I thought a republic meant someone looked out for our interests, but apparently that’s an old fashioned notion.

I’m not sure you can say that the Japanese had more expertise in carrier warfare than the US. Sure, they had more experience but only marginally. It wasn’t as if we were new to the carrier game. The disparity was certainly nothing like that between China and the United States today. Unless the Chinese have some trick up their sleeve–a secret weapon or some novel tactic we haven’t thought of–I can’t see them pulling off a Midway.

And yes, I know the dangers of arrogance and overconfidence–but not only do the Chinese have no experience with carrier warfare, they haven’t fought a major fleet action of any kind in centuries! How are they going to become a major naval power overnight? I don’t buy it.

Well, at least until the battle at Midway the Kido Butai (the aircraft carrier strike group) had taken down Pearl Harbor, raided as far as Ceylon, sank the US Pacific Battle Fleet, took out the Royal navy in the Pacific and Indian Ocean and generally bullied their way around the South Pacific. The only blemish being the one light carrier lost in the Coral Sea. True they did not have a whole lot more experience (in years) of operating carriers, but they certainly were having a lot more success with their carriers!

Secret weapons and special tactics are great for those who have them.… when they come about, but they are pretty rare. Overconfidence and casual indiference are far more common.

I daresay that the overall Chinese naval strategy is measured in decades not years. Major fleet actions have been difficult to pull off since Jutland, just look at the second half of WWII in the Pacific. There it was the Japanese BBs looking for a “fair fight”, now it would be carrier groups but… same logic I think applies!

I say good luck to the new Chinese navy! I can’t wait until they are out there on the high seas making them safer and all that other BS that flows out of Beijing like a river. But seriously folks, the Chinese have a long ways to go before they have a full fledged fighting navy and the willingness to use it to protect China’s global interests, what ever those might be. However, China has neighbors who have historical antagonisms. Taiwan, Japan, Korea, they aren’t just going to peacefully submit to a Chinese hegemony. Other than posturing, the Chinese have no experience on the modern battlefield and show no inclination to exercise their national will militarily in any international conflicts. Good for them, good for us. What we all need is time to adjust to one another as the global economy pushes us closer together. A stable and more open China is in everyone’s best interests. The Chinese want that, we all want that. Will China grow into the next global superpower? I think we should ask the 1.3 billion people of India how they feel about that?

OOOPs, I think you give Mao too much credit, even though he was pretty brazen in his statements. That mindset was rampant under the Mongol Khans and Chinese Mings as well as several dynasties before that. Certainly given the state of affairs at the time of Marco Polo for example, on a technolgical and societal standpoint, they were probably right! The supposed Chinese “inferiority complex” that we hear so much about only arose in the last couple of centuries.

From: http://​english​.peopledaily​.com​.cn/​9​0​7​8​6​/​7​5​6​8​0​2​3.h

“As for the question of whether China dares to use the aircraft carrier when its territorial waters are being infringed, the answer is obvious…If we do not have the courage or will to use it to solve territorial disputes, why would we have built it? Are we spending countless money and occupying quite a part of the national budget to build it only for admiring it or scaring the countries that provoke China? If it is necessary, China will use the aircraft carrier and other kinds of battleships to solve disputes. That is natural and logical.”

“China will have greater confidence and determination after owning aircraft carriers.”

“Whether or not China has aircraft carriers is vitally important to a country like China with a vast maritime territory. Without aircraft carriers, China will neither control the air nor maintain effective presence in regions that are far away from its coastal territory.”

See also: http://​english​.peopledaily​.com​.cn/​9​0​7​8​6​/​7​5​6​8​1​9​4.h

Trust “commie-speak ?” Hardly. Good article here about the ARK ROYAL — likely, China’s next floating “hotel/casino.” http://​the​-diplomat​.com/​c​h​i​n​a​-​p​o​w​e​r​/​2​0​1​1​/​0​8​/​0​4​/ch

“regions that are far away from its coastal territory”: i.e. the Spratlys. Maybe they will build a big naval base on one of those rocks and anchor the Shi Lang there. They just better hope their competitors don’t buy themselves some cheap minelayers.

“If it is necessary, China will use the aircraft carrier and other kinds of battleships to solve disputes. That is natural and logical.”

I’m “happy” China is only considering “a peaceful” and “non threatening its neighbors” rise to superpower status as it is rapidibly building up its military forces. I thought I heard of another country a few decades ago say the same thing. The Leader was born in a small Austrian town called Braunau if I remember correctly.

SEE: http://​the​-diplomat​.com/​c​h​i​n​a​-​p​o​w​e​r​/​2​0​1​1​/​0​8​/​0​4​/ch


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