According to The South China Morning Post, which first reported on Shandong’s sea trials, at-sea training of Shandong‘s crew was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but the vessel is now carrying out its first exercises at sea since being commissioned with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese navy) last year.
A spokesman of China’s ministry of defense said yesterday:
The PLA Navy is conducting sea trials and training exercises for aircraft carrier Shandong in accordance with the annual training plan to test the performance of weapons and equipment, strengthen training and enhance the ship’s capabilities to perform missions and tasks.
Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Li Yongxuan, the vice captain of the Shandong aircraft carrier, told China’s state media CCTV that the Shandong urgently needed training to develop its capabilities: “We need to integrate the Shandong aircraft carrier combat group into the overall combat system as early as possible. And we will strive to make our aircraft carrier into a combat-ready and triumphant ship”.
About Shandong aircraft carrier
Shandong was commissioned in December 2019 at a naval base in Sanya in presence of President Xi Jinping. It is the PLAN’s 2nd aircraft carrier but the first one fully designed and built locally by the engineers of the 701 Institute of the CSIC group on the basis of Project 1134.5 Varyag (known as Liaoning today and in service with the PLAN).
Construction of Shandong began in November 2013. It was launched in April 2017 at the Dalian Shipyard, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province.
Having a displacement of around 40,000-60,000 tons and using a similar ski-jump flight deck as the Liaoning, the conventional-powered Shandong is equipped with more advanced electronic devices and control and command system, and built with an optimized superstructure and internal layout, after gaining actual-user experiences following the Liaoning’s commissioning in 2012.
According to Chinese media, Shandong‘s airwing can carry 36 J-15 fighter jets, compared to the Liaoning’s 24.