China’s Newest Aircraft Carrier Undergoing First Round of Sea Trials

Photo Credit: VCG / VCG / Getty Images
Photo Credit: VCG / VCG / Getty Images

Update – 05/02/2024:

China’s newest aircraft carrier, the Type 003 Fujian, set out on May 1, 2024, to complete her first set of sea trials. Little has been revealed regarding the tests, but experts say they “will primarily test the reliability and stability of the aircraft carrier’s propulsion and electrical systems.”

Aerial view of the Type 003 Fujian leaving port
Type 003 Fujian heading out to the East China Sea to complete her first round of sea trials, 2024. (Photo Credit: Pu Haiyang / Xinhua / Getty Images)

While not directly confirming the development, the China Maritime Safety Administration issued two notices in the days leading up to the Type 003 Fujian leaving port. One stated an unspecified large ship would be leaving the Yangtze River estuary, with the second warning of military activities taking place some 80 miles into the East China Sea

The first round of sea trials is anticipated to take between three and six days, and it will involve the testing of communications and radar equipment, the vessel’s propulsion, her hull integrity and the engineering. Flight operations aren’t expected to take place at this time.

Speaking with CNN, Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain and the former director of operations at the US Pacific Command‘s Joint Intelligence Center, said, “These sea trials mark the first major step in China’s developing the capacity to project sea-based air power into deep ocean areas.”

Crowd waving at a group of people aboard the flight deck of the Type 003 Fujian
People waving goodbye to the staff members attending the maiden sea trials of the Type 003 Fujian, 2024. (Photo Credit: Li Yun / Xinhua / Getty Images)

It’s anticipated that the Type 003 Fujian‘s sea trials will take around a year or so to complete, with the aircraft carrier likely being commissioned in either 2025 or ’26.

Original Article:

Chinese state television has released footage of China’s newest aircraft carrier, the Type 003 Fujian. A marvel of engineering and the first domestically developed carrier in the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) fleet, the vessel is slated to participate in sea trials at some point in early 2024.

Type 003 Fujian at port
Type 003 Fujian being launched, 2022. (Photo Credit: VCG / VCG / Getty Images)

Chinese Central Television (CCTV) shared the images earlier this week, showing the Type 003 Fujian being towed by a much smaller vessel. According to The Drive, the aircraft carrier was being transported to dry dock, so work could get underway to rectify existing issues with the vessel.

Citing an officer stationed aboard the ship, state television said that “in the new year, we [PLAN] will seize every minute, work with determination, and strive for combat readiness as soon as possible.”

The Type 003 Fujian will be the third aircraft carrier in the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s fleet. Considered a next-generation vessel, she’s been compared to the US Navy’s Gerald R. Ford-class carriers, with analyst Robert Farley going so far as to call the ship the “largest and most advanced” built outside of the United States.

Powered by steam turbines, the aircraft carrier is equipped with electromagnetic catapults (EMALS), which are only present on the Gerald R. Ford-class. These allow the vessel to launch a wider array of aircraft than her predecessors, the Type 001 Liaoning and the Type 002 Shandong.

Type 003 Fujian, decorated with streamers, at port
Launch of the Type 003 Fujian, 2022. (Photo Credit: VCG / VCG / Getty Images)

The Type 003 Fujian was launched in June 2022, marking the first time the public was given a glimpse of the aircraft carrier. In April of the following year, mooring and power trials occurred, with launch tests conducted that November. As aforementioned, she’s expected to complete sea trials at some point in 2024.

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According to Reuters, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the country’s increased combat readiness ahead of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2027. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has been working to overhaul China’s military.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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