China's 2nd aircraft carrier to conduct testing and training in South China Sea
By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/18 15:31:58
China's second aircraft carrier successfully sailed through the Taiwan Straits on Sunday and headed toward a designated area in the South China Sea for testing and training, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy announced on Monday, with experts saying the long voyage from Northeast China could be the last step in the trials phase of the warship which is expected to enter naval service soon.
Organizing the domestically built aircraft carrier for this cross-regional testing and training is a normal arrangement in the construction of the carrier, said Cheng Dewei, spokesperson of the PLA Navy, in a video released by the PLA Navy in its Sina Weibo account on Monday.
The voyage is not aimed at any specific target, and is not related to other ongoing issues, Cheng said.
The yet-to-be-named domestically developed carrier is believed to be on its ninth sea trial after departing the Dalian Shipyard in Northeast China's Liaoning Province since Thursday, Hong Kong-based wenweipo.com reported on Thursday.
An anonymous military expert told the Global Times on Monday that conducting a sea trial in the South China Sea will allow the aircraft carrier crew to become familiar with the sea area where it will often sail in the future. The crew is expected to study the southern seas and affirm that the testing done in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea near the Dalian Shipyard remains viable in southern waters.
The video shows J-15 carrier-borne fighter jets on the flight deck as the aircraft carrier is being escorted by other naval vessels.
Xu Guangyu, a senior consultant at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times that a sea trial involving an aircraft carrier fleet that includes multiple other vessels is needed before the carrier is commissioned.
After the sea trial in the South China Sea, the aircraft carrier could sail to a naval port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province for a commissioning ceremony that will see it finally join the PLA Navy, experts predicted.
The port in Sanya hosted China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in 2013, as it has facilities to meet the needs for hosting all kinds of large naval vessels, the Xinhua News Agency reported in November 2013.
The Chaganhu, China's second Type 901 aircraft carrier supply ship, is stationed in the PLA Southern Theater Command Navy, state-owned news website cnr.cn reported on Friday. This is another indication that the second aircraft carrier could be stationed in the south, analysts said.
If the domestically developed aircraft carrier is indeed hosted by the Sanya naval port over the long term, the South China Sea will be right at its doorstep, and not far from the island of Taiwan, analysts said.
While China is striving to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, some countries from outside the region have been stirring trouble and causing instability, another anonymous expert said, noting that the commissioning of the new aircraft carrier will safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, protect peace in the South China Sea and help China fulfill its responsibility as a major country for regional and world peace.
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