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The Shi Lang at a shipyard in China

Computer version of Shi Lang the Chinese aircraft carrier

It seems that this is the year of aircraft carriers as both China and the United Kingdom are building them.  Of the two China's is rather interesting it is a former Ukraine Navy vessel which China bought in 1998 and towed without an engine and with much of the vessel missing, to a shipyard at China.  The Chinese Navy studied it, used it for training purposes and designed a rebuilding programme which now is bearing fruit.  She is named after Shi Lang an Admiral who conquered Taiwan in 1681, in itself an interesting and perhaps warning choice of name.  On April 28, 2011 Shi Lang may well put to sea for the commencement of a long programme of ship trials and training of Chinese Naval personnel, of all ranks and rates, in operating aircraft carriers and flight operations from them. 

She will be the first of several planned carriers which may be restored from old vessels bought in the last decades or more likely build from Chinese designs in China's shipyards or perhaps a combination of training vessels from restorations and operational new vessels from China's shipyards. 

Admiral Zheng He would be delighted to see this restoration of Chinese seapower.  In recent years the People's Liberation Army Navy has quietly retraced many of Zheng He's voyages and is building up a cadre of skilled naval personnel in all branches of sea service.  They have now voyaged through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean to protect and support the Chinese workers in Libya during their transfer to Turkey for repatriation home.

Royal Navy QE Class super-carrier
Naval jig-saw building the super-carrier and one of her props.
Also being built in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy is a Queen Elizabeth Class super-carrier.  This is also an interesting project since the defence cut-backs in the UK.  Also the remark during l'affaire HMS Astute that qualified submariners were hard to recruit and then train. 

So how about the super-carriers crew, around 4000 or more in a US Navy carrier but the Royal Navy has said it can mann the vessel with only 600 crew and another 1000 in a carrier flight wing.  At least the Chinese will not have manning problems for their carrier or anything else for that matter - just train them and use them.

Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.


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