The not so surprising Chinese aircraft carrier

Feb 16, 2007
Author: P&S

Remember the former Soviet aircraft carrier VARYAG, which was sold in an incomplete condition to so-called Chinese entrepreneurs who said they intended converting her into a floating casino.

The ship was towed from the Black Sea to China where she arrived in March 2002, ostensibly to lay up until the workers could come on board and begin her conversion for more pleasurable activities than her designers anticipated.

Later, surprise, surprise, the ‘owners’ of the former warship were unsuccessful in being awarded one of the casino licences from the Macao authorities, and so the aircraft carrier was allowed to sit and slowly rust away. An estimated US $ 30 million down the tubes, some may have thought.

Think again. Suddenly in 2005 ship was brought back to life in a Dalian shipyard, where ship repairers began the task of sandblasting her hull while others disappeared inside to do what was necessary. After the sandblasting came the painters, with a clean coat of navy grey - the same tone of grey used by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) - restoring the ship in outward appearance to what the Ukraine builders originally intended.

With that analysts turned their thoughts towards the idea that the ship might after all be used as a training facility or even for operational purposes. Adding to this scenario came the news late last year that Russia plans to sell up to 50 Su-33 navy fighter aircraft to China, aircraft that would be highly suitable for landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier such as the former VARYAG.



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