|Shi Lang 1621-1696|
As is usual in sea trials this was the opportunity to get used to handling the large vessel underway at various speeds. During the four days at sea the PLAN will have also checked out her engines and auxiliaries as carriers require a speed of at least 30 knots. Also her electronic systems such as radars and sonars, the full set of her navigation systems and any weapons fitted. Nothing unusual here as these are standard first sea trials for any ship in both the Navy and Merchant Navy.
One thing that was most likely not tested was fixed-wing carrier landings, though it is possible they did practice carrier take offs. Rotary-wing landings and take offs would have been operated as the helicopters would need to be in position as rescue units should any carrier operations take place.
It is interesting because over the weekend there was a TV programme and discussion about Asymmetric Warfare, often known as guerrilla warfare or terrorism. Such warfare has been successfully practiced by many indigenous peoples against more powerful Nations armed forces. The United States found this to its cost in Viet Nam, having not paid attention to French advise, currently in Iraq and Afghanistan indigenous units such as the Taliban are active and effective.
China may be covering all options by operating powerful Navy fleets now to be based around aircraft carriers and at the same time having a large fleet of small ships in the Type 022 FAC-M. These could be effectively used in guerrilla type strikes against powerful naval fleets and land based targets.
Please remember the 800 of our fellow seafarers still held captive by pirates off Somalia. It is now being reported that piracy attacks are occurring even more frequently off the Coast of West Africa. Ships crews are being pressured NOT TO REPORT these attacks because of increasing Insurance rates for Shipowners. So much for the Maritime Authorities caring about the Seafarer Conditions and Rights.