Carriers on the move from the Liaoning to Hampton Roads

The first clear images of the Type 002 carrier, Shāndōng (17) have been released as the vessel was commissioned yesterday into PLAN service. The vessel, China’s second semi-operational flattop after the old Soviet-made Liaoning (ex-Varyag), and the first to be domestically-built, is conventionally-powered.

From the South China Morning Post

With a 70,000-ton displacement, she is larger than any other carrier in service save for nuclear-powered U.S. Nimitz and Ford-class supercarriers and is roughly about the same size as the old Forrestal-class CVAs– but only carry about half of the airwing. It is further argued that her airwing, restricted to a ski-jump, cannot maintain the same sortie rate as a U.S. ship.

Her commissioning was attended by President Xi Jinping, and it is expected the PLAN will have a four carrier fleet within a decade.

Meanwhile, PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), the U.S. Navy’s newest nuclear-powered Ford-class carrier, was quietly launched into the James River this week.

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