Tag Archive | Varyag

China on track to have six (6) carrier battle groups by 2035

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China is hard at work on their second Type 001A class aircraft carrier, CV18. It will use an electromagnetic aircraft launch system and displace somewhere on the order of 80,000-tons, making it the largest Chinese warship ever built and second only to a modern U.S. fleet carrier.

Chinese carrier Liaoning with escorts.

The PLAN has actually been in the carrier business in part since the mid-1970s, a dream realized in part when they picked up the retired Majestic-class light carriers HMAS Melbourne (R21) in 1984. Though she had a scant 868,893 nautical miles on her and was a mess, the Chinese slowly disassembled the WWII-design over a 15-year period and reportedly made extensive notes on her construction and steam catapult and landing systems as first steps towards their own carrier program. Reportedly, the Chinese Navy reverse-engineered a land-based replica of Melbourne‘s cat by 1987 and has used it in a series of trials of their own carrier-based aircraft.

The PLAN further compared the 1940s British carrier to that of the 1970s Soviet helicopter carriers Kiev and Minsk, purchased in the 1990s as floating amusement parks for tourists, to help with their own best practices in flattop construction moving forward. Then came the 67,000-ton Admiral Kuznetsov-class strike carrier, laid down as the Soviet carrier Varyag in 1985, and finally completed by the Chinese in 2011 as Liaoning after she was sold in 1998 by the Ukrainians as a floating casino (!).

China’s first locally built carrier, the Type 001A aircraft carrier or CV-17, a modified Kuznetsov based on the Liaoning improvements, was launched on 26 April 2017 and is fitting out with a completion date expected sometime around 2020 as the carrier Shi Lang. The yard reportedly is using lots of Ukrainian experts and a staff of 5,000 skilled shipbuilders.

Media reports from the country now say China plans to have up to six aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2035, according to naval experts, with Liaoning, one or two new Type 001A class vessels, as well as nuclear-powered follow-on ships as the centerpiece.

That’s a pretty aggressive growth plan with lots of potential for failure, but you have to admit, it is starting to look like a whole new Pacific in the next generation.

Chinese to build 2nd domestic carrier, bigger, better. Have 4 CVBGs by 2030s

November 2017- “China’s first operational aircraft carrier arrived in Hong Kong for the first time in a display of military might less than a week after a high-profile visit by President Xi Jinping. The Liaoning steamed into port with its escort of two guided missile destroyers and a missile frigate, dropping anchor at a naval base across from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island.” (Reuters)

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China made it official last week and said they started work on their second Type 001A class aircraft carrier, CV18, back in October of last year. It will use an electromagnetic aircraft launch system and displace somewhere on the order of 80,000-tons, making it the largest Chinese warship ever built and second only to a modern U.S. fleet carrier.

The PLAN has actually been in the carrier business in part since the mid-1970s, a dream realized in part when they picked up the retired Majestic-class light carriers HMAS Melbourne (R21) in 1984. Though she had 868,893 nautical miles on her and was a mess, the Chinese slowly disassembled the WWII-design over a 15 year period and reportedly made extensive notes on her construction and steam catapult and landing systems as first steps towards their own carrier program. Reportedly, the Chinese Navy reverse-engineered a land-based replica of Melbourne‘s cat by 1987 and has used it in a series of trials of their own carrier-based aircraft.

The PLAN further compared the 1940s British carrier to that of the 1970s Soviet helicopter carriers Kiev and Minsk, purchased in the 1990s as floating amusement parks for tourists, to help with their own best practices in flattop construction moving forward. Then came the 67,000-ton Admiral Kuznetsov-class strike carrier, laid down as the Soviet carrier Varyag in 1985, and finally completed by the Chinese in 2011 as Liaoning after she was sold in 1998 by the Ukrainians as a floating casino (!).

China’s first locally built carrier, the Type 001A aircraft carrier or CV-17, a modified Kuznetsov based on the Liaoning improvements, was launched on 26 April 2017 and is fitting out with a completion date expected sometime around 2020 as the carrier Shi Lang. The yard reportedly is using lots of Ukrainian experts and a staff of 5,000 skilled shipbuilders.

China plans to have four aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2030, according to naval experts, with Liaoning and three progressively better Type 001A class vessels as the centerpiece.

Chinese carrier ‘ Liaoning with escorts. Photos via Chinese Internet

Russia’s globetrotting Pacific Viking

The Russian Cruiser Varyag of the Pacific Fleet, in Pudong, Shanghai, China. May 2014

The Russian Cruiser Varyag of the Pacific Fleet, in Pudong, Shanghai, China. May 2014. Click to embiggen.

In the late 1960s, the Soviets envisioned a class of 10 or more massive 12,000-ton guided missile cruisers. Capable of traveling more than 12,000 miles without refueling, these bruisers would be able to sail the world, showing the Red Banner of the worker’s paradise. As a tie-in to the old Tsarist navy, many of these ships were named after classic warships of that fleet, including the lead ship of the class, Slava (Glory). One of the last of these craft completed, the Varyag (Varangian– based on what the Greeks called thVikings), although originally named Chervona Ukraina (Red Ukraine) was given the name of the Pacific fleet cruiser who fought and lost a wonderfully heroic one-sided battle in 1904 against the Japanese.

Commissioned October 16, 1989, Varyag was sent to the Pacific like her namesake and spent most of her life in a caretaker status in Vladivostok, the new Russian Navy being very cash strapped, especially after 1991.

Overhauled in 2008, she has found new life in the past half decade and has sailed from one end of the Pacific to the other, visiting California, Hawaii, Singapore, and all points in between. Equipped with  16 huge carrier-killer P-500 Bazalt (SS-N-12 Sandbox) anti-ship missiles, as well as enough of an anti-air and ASW suite to make most fleets think twice, she speaks softly but carries a big stick.

The Slava-class cruiser Varyag of the Russian Federation Navy Pacific Fleet.

The Slava-class cruiser Varyag of the Russian Federation Navy Pacific Fleet.

Warship Weds June 13

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk navies of the 1866-1938 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday,  June 13

Here we have the beautiful Russian cruiser Varyag (Viking.) She was built at William Cramp and Sons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her keel was laid in October 1898. She was commisoned January 2, 1901 and sailed immediately for the Russian Far East where she visited many foreign ports and waved her flag proudly for her Tsar.

Specs:
Type:     Protected cruiser
Displacement:     6,500 long tons (6,604 t)
Length:     129.6 m (425 ft 2 in) w/l
Beam:     15.8 m (51 ft 10 in)
Draught:     6.3 m (20 ft 8 in)
Propulsion:     2-shaft Vertical triple expansion steam engines
30 Niclausse water-tube boilers
20,000 ihp (15,000 kW)
Speed:     23 knots (26 mph; 43 km/h)
Complement:     570
Armament:     12 × 1 – 152 mm (6 in) guns
12 × 1 – 75 mm (3.0 in) guns
8 × 1 – 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
2 × 1 – 37 mm (1.5 in) guns
6 × 1 – 381 mm (15.0 in) submerged torpedo tubes

When the Russo-Japanese war erupted she was anchored as shown above in the harbor at Inchon in Chemulpo Bay, Korea (at that time part of the Japanese Empire) her only companion was the small sailing gunboat Korietz.

At the harbor mouth appeared an entire Japanese squadron led by Rear Admiral Uryu Sotokichi who commanded 6 cruisers and 8 torpedo boats, outnumbering and outgunning  the pair of Russian ships by a factor of about 700%.

Instead of surrendering, the Varyag‘s captain Vsevolod Rudnev, built steam and charged at the Japanese ships with all flags flying and the ship’s band playing.

A number of neutral vessels in the bay, including the British cruiser Talbot, the French cruiser Pascal, the Italian cruiser Elba, and the U.S. gunboat USS Vicksburg and collier USS Pompey, watched the action that unfolded.

From the Varyag logbook:

11:10 All hands on deck on Varyag.
11:20 Cruiser goes to open sea, Korietz in 1 cable length (200 meters) behind. English and Italian crews cheer Russians; on the Italian cruiser Elba the Russian anthem is played.
11:25 Battle alarm on “Varyag“. Japanese cruisers Asama, Naniwa, Takachiho, Chiyoda, Akashi and Niitaka in bearing line from Richy island to Northern passage. Japanese torpedo-boats behind cruisers.
11:45 Varyag opens fire with port guns.
11:47 Asama opens fire with 8″ gun; all Japanese squadron then open fire.
One of the first Japanese shells that hit cruiser, destroyed the port wing of front bridge, set fire in chart house and broke the fore shrouds. Junior navigating officer midshipman Count Alexey Nirod was killed, all personnel on range finding station #1 were killed or wounded.
Damaged 10.2″ gun #3, all personnel killed or wounded, battery commander midshipman Gubonin was wounded, but refused to go away until he fall. Fire on bow and quarterdeck (was put out by midshipman Chernilovsky-Sokol). With the same shell, that caused fire was damaged guns: 10.2″ #8 and #9, 75mm #21 47mm #27 and #28. With other hits was nearly destroyed main battle top, destroyed range finding station #2, damaged guns #31 and #32, fire in lockers on accommodation deck (was put out lively).
12:05 After passing traverse of “Yo-dol-mi” island trunk with rudder drive was damaged. At the same time, Captain Rudnev was shell-shocked in head by fragments of another shell, hitting foremast. Staff-bugler and drummer, who stay astride him was deadly killed, helmsman petty officer Snegirev was badly wounded in back, and orderly of captain quartermaster Chibisov was lightly wounded too. Ship from now was steered from steering compartment, but orders were stiffed, so course permanently was corrected with engines. At strong current cruiser steered badly.
12:15 Willing to go out of fire range to repair as possible steering drive and put out fires in different places begin to turn with machines, as cruiser steered badly. Near Yo-dol-mi island engines on full back.
Cruiser was put in disadvantage position relatively to island when steering drive was broken with rudder at 15-20° on port side.
Distance to enemy shortens to 28-30 cable length, fire strengthens, hits increase.
Near the same time large caliber shell hit port side under water, water gushed into huge hole, stokehold #3 begins to full with water, which level raised up to furnaces. Chief Officer and chief boatswain placed patch under the hole, water was pumped all time, its level decreased continuously, but cruiser continue to listing at port side.
With shell passing through officer cabins, which were wrecked, deck was pierced and meal in provision berth was inflamed. Then cot netting at waist under the sick quarters was pierced, wherein fragments get into sick quarters, cots in netting catch fire, which was put out lively. Serious damage forced us to get out of fire range for a more long time, that is why we come to roadstead at full speed, firing with port and bow guns.
Throughout the battle with one shot of 10.2″ gun #XII bow bridge of Asama cruiser was destroyed and put afire, Asama stop fire for some time. bow turret on her was apparently damaged, as it not fired up to the end of battle.
12:40 With cruiser approached the berth and Japanese fire become dangerous for neutral ships on roadstead, two cruiser pursuing us stop the fire and return to the rest of squadron out of Yo-dol-mi island.
12:45 Distance to the Japanese so increased, that our fire become ineffective, so we stop it.

Unable to break past the Japanese squadron by mid-afternoon, Korietz and the badly battered Varyag returned to Chemulpo harbor at 13:15, where both took refuge near the neutral warships. At 16:00, Korietz was scuttled by her crew by blowing up two powder-rooms. Fragments of the blown-up ship landed dangerously close to neutral vessels. Fearing a greater explosion with potential casualties, the captains of the neutral warships present urged Rudnev not to blow up Varyag in a similar manner. At 18:10, scuttled by her crew, Varyag rolled over on her port side and sank. Crewmen from Varyag were dispatched to the Russian transport Sungari, which had remained behind in the harbor during the battle, and set her on fire to prevent her from falling into Japanese hands.

Varyag as the IJN Soya 1907-1916…

These efforts were for naught and the Japanese raised the ship, renamed her Soya  and dubbed her a 3rd class cruiser. The Soya was used primarily for training duties. From 14 March 1909 to 7 August 1909, it made a long distance navigational and officer cadet training cruise to Hawaii and North America. It repeated this training cruise every year until 1913.

During World War I Russia and Japan became allies and the Soya (along with several other vessels) was transferred back to Russia at Vladivostok on 5 April 1916, and its original name of Varyag restored. While being refit in Great Britain the Russian revolution gripped Russia and the British seized her. In 1920, judging the vessel in poor repair, the British sold her to a German breaking yard. That same year, while under tow in the Firth of Clyde, she ran aground on rocks near the Scottish village of Lendalfoot, and was scrapped there. Her remaining hull finally sank in 1925 and was never recovered.

In November 2010 the government of South Korea turned over a number of captured relics in their possession to the Russian government. The Japanese Navy had in 1904 recovered 14 artifacts from the Varyag, including its flag, artillery rounds, shells, gun and mast, and stored them at a location in Inchon. Now the Inchon Metropolitan Museum, which acquired them after Japan’s defeat at the end of World War II, returned them to Russia under an honor guard of ROK Marines.

26 Years Later the Chinese Have an Aircraft Carrier

Originally, to be the Soviet Carrier Varyag, she is now China’s first flattop after a weird and sketchy trip.

The Original Ship

Laid down in 1985 by the Soviet Union, at 65,000-tons and 1000-feet long overall, she was the largest Russian warship to ever make it off the drawing board. Designed with rooms for 3857 embarked personnel she was to carry 1960 crewmembers, a 626-man air group, 40 flag officers, and a battalion of Naval Infantry if needed.  Her air group would be two squadrons of MIG-29Ks fighters, a squadron of SU-33 strike planes, and two squadrons of Ka-27 helicopters for antisubmarine and transport. A total of about 50 aircraft. A huge battery of defensive and offensive missiles meant the ship could act independently and without escorts if needed.  A steam power plant was designed to make the ship capable of 30+ knots and stay at sea for 45 days, or 8000-nautical miles (enough to sail from Murmansk to New York and back on one tank of gas).

Varyag as designed by Soviet Union

She was never completed and construction stopped after the fall of the Berlin Wall. For six years she languished in the Ukraine incomplete and rusting away. Looters stripped her and she never did have her she engines, rudder, and much of her operating systems (read=weapons) installed.

The Sale!

In April 1998, Ukrainian Trade Minister Roman Shpek announced that the hulk had been sold for US$25 million to the “Chong Lot Travel Agency Ltd”, a small company based in Hong Kong. They proposed to tow Varyag out of the Black Sea, through the Suez Canal and around southern Asia to Macau, where they would moor the ship and convert it into a floating hotel and gambling parlor. It would be similar to the attractions Kiev in Tianjin and Minsk at Minsk World in Shenzhen.

The hulk was towed at six knots for 15,000-miles and held up for months trying to pass the Bospherous, caught a near-hurricane off Greece, prevented from transiting the Suez Canal and finally, four years later, entered Chinese waters on February 20, 2002, and arrived March 3 at Dalian Shipyard in northeastern China. The total cost of acquiring the hulk was over $30 million USD: $25 million to the Ukrainian government for the hull, nearly $500,000 in transit fees, and some $5 million for the towing.

The 70% completed, engineless ex-Varyag under tow to her new home, offically as a Hong Kong casino ship

Bait and Switch

China continued to assert that Varyag would be a casino. When Macau awarded new casino licenses in February 2002, Chong Lot was not among successful bidders. The hulk was tied up at Dalian.

2001- An unfinished Su-33 prototype, the T-10K-3, was acquired from Ukraine sometime in 2001 and is said to have been studied extensively, with development on the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation’s J-15 Flying Shark beginning immediately afterward.

The SU-33 In Russian Service, Not to be for China...at least not from Russia

The Varyag was moved in early June 2005 to a dry dock at Dalian (38.9414°N 121.6447°E). Her hull was sandblasted and scaffolding erected around her. The most visible modification done to the Varyag is that her island has been painted in a red marine primer that is used to treat corroded metal.

On October 24, 2006, the Kommersant online daily newspaper reported that Russia planned to sell up to 50 Su-33 fighters to China through Rosoboronexport, in a $2.5 billion deal.

2008 Photos in the Dalian Shipyard have shown that a yellow anti-skid primer was added to the flight deck. Then the final flight deck turf layering was added on top of it. The vessel has also been painted in the standard PLA Naval colours.

Jane’s Fighting Ships states that Varyag may have been named Shi Lang and assigned pennant number 83. Jane’s notes that both the name and pennant number are unconfirmed. Shi Lang was a Ming-Qing Dynasty admiral who defeated Koxinga’s descendants’ navy and conquered Taiwan in 1681.

Jane’s Navy International noted in October 2007 “refurbishment work and fitting out is continuing and the vessel is expected to begin initial sea trials in 2008.”

At the end of 2008, the Asahi Shimbun reported that the carrier was “nearing completion.”

In March 2009, Moskovskij Komsomolets reported that negotiations to buy the 50 SU-33s from Russia had collapsed over Russian fears that China might begin producing cheaper export versions of the Su-33 with Chinese avionics and systems, undercutting Russian exports, in the same way as with the J-11B (Chinese version of the Su-27).

On April 27, 2009 Varyag was reported to have been moved into another dry dock, “apparently to install engines and other heavy equipment”.

August 2009- The Chinese first J-15 carrier fighter prototype is believed to have performed its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, powered by Russian-supplied AL-31 turbofan engines.

J-15 Flying Shark model

A new radar mast has been installed on Varyag’s superstructure as of December 15, 2009.

In 2009, at the Wuhan Naval Research facilities near Huangjia Lake in the southwestern suburbs of Wuhan, the PLAN constructed a full-scale logistics and training deck and island mockup of the Varyag.

May 6, 2010, the prototype Chinese J-15 carrier based aircraft conducted its first takeoff from a simulated ski-jump.

Early 2011, the still officially civilian-owned ship is still docked in Dalian shipyard, and is being fitted out with combat sensors, and defensive weapons. The vessel is also beginning to run power as well. Recent photos have shown steam and exhaust coming from the ship’s island, further suggesting her engines and propulsion will be operational soon. Sensors that have been observed are Active Electronically Scanned Array(AESA) and Sea Eagle radar. Weapons observed have been the Type 1030 CIWS, and the FL-3000N missile system (making her the most heavily armed casino in the world).

It has also been observed that the old anti-ship missile tubes have been plugged and will not be used, thus freeing up more internal space for hangar or storage use. Russia plans to do the same when it modernizes the Varyag’s sister Kuznetsov.|date=April 2011}} The Kamov Ka-31 has been confirmed as purchased and operational with the PLAN, and may form the Airborne early warning and control basis for the ship’s air wing.

On June 8, 2011, the Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, Gen. Chen Bingde confirmed that Beijing is building an aircraft carrier, marking the first acknowledgement of the ship’s existence from China’s armed forces. He said that the refurbished Soviet carrier “is being built, but has not been completed.” The ship would be used for training and as a model for a future indigenously built ship and is expected to be launched by the end of June at the earliest. Qi Jianguo, assistant to the chief of the PLA’s general staff said, “All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers — they are symbols of a great power”

In July 2011, it was reported FWS-10H turbofan engine was chosen for J-15 fighter, which has takeoff thrust increased to 12,800 kg, comparing FWS-10 turbofan’s 12,500 kg. Other improvements were also made to make it better suited to carrier-based fighter’s requirement. Some components onboard J-15 are based on those onboard J-11B, such as the anti-ship enhanced PD radar, the glass cockpit as well as the improved WS-10 turbofan engine. It can also fire a variety of Chinese designed weapons, including PL-8, PL-12 AAMs and YJ-83K AShM. Overall J-15 is believed to be in the same class of American F/A-18C. —–Chinese officials however commented that the J-15 could match the performance of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Rafale M naval fighters. Some analysts believe the J-15 likely possesses superior aerodynamic capabilities to all fighter aircraft operated by regional militaries with the exception of the F-22. The J-15 is also believed to possess a 10% superior thrust to weight ratio and a 25% lower wing loading than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The J-15 Flying Shark, not a model anymore

On July 27, 2011, the Chinese Defense Ministry, officially announced it was refitting the vessel for “scientific research, experiment and training.”

On August 10, 2011, the Varyag began sea trials. An RSIS analyst had noted that China still has a long way to go to make it operational, but was determined to do so On August 15, 2011, the Varyag docked in Dalian, completing its first four-day sea trial. On November 29, 2011, the carrier left port for its second set of trials. The carrier is expected to be handed over to the PLAN in 2012.

December 8, 2011- the Shi Lang photographed by Digiglobe in the Yellow Sea….

ITS ALIVE!

As she stands today

Therefore, she has put to sea. A major accomplishment for hulk 26-years under construction that has been in 3 or 4 owners, depending on how you look at it.

However, she has no airgroup and no offensive weapons systems. The two Type 1030 CIWS and the 4 FL-3000 (18 Cell Missile system) batteries installed are for self-defense. With the fall through of the SU-33 deal from Russia, China does not have any operational carrier-based planes to fly from the ship when she does become operational. However, their J-15 is making fast progress and is expected to become operational around 2016. A number of J-11 (Su-30MK2 rip off) is available to China in the interim. A multi-role fighter-bomber and air superiority aircraft, which can also be used in the maritime strike role, the J-11, has an operational radius of around 1500 km, and is equipped with an inflight refueling facility extending their radius by another 500 km. Although normally configured for conventional operations, the J-11 could provide China with a high-performance nuclear-capable strike aircraft.

So you see the 5-year plan. What must happen is that the first batch of Chinese carrier pilots will have to be trained from the now-operational carrier and then transition to the J-15. Expect it.

What’s the big concern?

China now has their first carrier, their USS Langley, and is playing around with it.

In Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands, with 34 planes on her flight deck, May 1928.

The little old Langley, a converted coaler, started US Naval aviation. In January 1923, Langley had begun flight operations and tests in the Caribbean Sea for carrier landings. In June, she steamed to Washington, DC, to give a demonstration at a flying exhibition before civil and military dignitaries. She commenced training along the Atlantic coast and Caribbean, which carried her through the end of the year. In 1924, Langley participated in more maneuvers and exhibitions, and spent the summer at Norfolk for repairs and alterations; she departed for the west coast late in the year and arrived San Diego, California on 29 November to join the Pacific Battle Fleet. For the next 12 years, she operated off the California coast and Hawaii engaged in training fleet units, experimentation, pilot training, and tactical-fleet problems.

Within 17-years of the USS Langley coming down the ways, the US Navy had 7 operational combat-capable carriers, more than 500 experienced and active naval carrier aviators, and almost 1000-planes. With these, they fought, and largely won, the first year of World War 2 in the Pacific.

It very well may be 1923 in China right now.

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