China’s 2nd aircraft carrier leaves shipyard for trials amid COVID-19 pandemic

Photo Courtesy: China Central Television

China’s second aircraft carrier “Shandong” (the first indigenously built one) is conducting testing and training missions at sea, the state broadcaster confirmed on 27th May, after local residents saw the warship leaving a shipyard on 25th May.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warship Shandong is conducting testing and training missions in an undisclosed location while its troops studied Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech on 26th May when he was attending a plenary meeting of the delegation of the PLA and People’s Armed Police Force, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

As China’s first indigenously made aircraft carrier, the Shandong has been actively conducting real combat-oriented training since its commissioning in December 2019, the report said.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the aircraft carrier neglected neither epidemic control nor testing and training, as professional training has been conducted for individual sailors, battle positions and departments, CCTV reported.

Xi’s important speech pointed the direction to push ahead with various tasks for the troops under the condition of regular prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic and boosted the confidence of the troops. The troops are determined to achieve the targets and missions of strengthening the national defense and armed forces for 2020, the report said.

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The Shendong is the first indigenously built aircraft carrier of the PLA Navy

The Shandong was commissioned by the PLA Navy on December 17, with a ceremony held at a naval base in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, after which it sailed back to the Dalian Shipyard in late December for maintenance.

When the Shandong left the shipyard, no aircraft was spotted on the flight deck based on photos and videos taken by local residents. But the CCTV report showed J-15 fighter jets on the carrier. This probably means the fighter jet takeoff and landing missions are part of the training.