China commissions first locally-built aircraft carrier

Shandong in the months prior to its commissioning (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Tyg728)

Shandong, the first aircraft carrier to be constructed domestically in China, was commissioned into service with the country’s navy on Tuesday, December 17.

The ship was built by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) and was originally designated Type 002. Like Liaoning, formerly the Soviet Navy ship Riga and China’s first aircraft carrier, it is named after one of two coastal provinces near Beijing.

The carrier will be capable of accommodating up to 40 aircraft, 30 of which will be J-15 Feisha (“Flying Shark”) fighter-bombers.

The completion of the 315-metre, 55,000-tonne Shandong makes China the first country in Asia since World War II to build a carrier that could deploy conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) fixed-wing aircraft.

Comparable indigenous vessels currently in service in South Korea and Japan are capable of accommodating only helicopters and short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) fixed-wing aircraft while the Indian Navy’s INS Vikramaditya, despite also being able to carry CTOL fixed-wing aircraft, was built in Russia.

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