Despite China’s Boastful Propaganda, Images Show China’s New Fujian Aircraft Carrier Has Two Major Cracks On The Deck

Chinese State media reported that Hina’s third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, set out on its first sea trial on Wednesday.

“At about 8 o’clock on May 1, China’s third aircraft carrier Fujian unmoored from the dock of Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard and set sail for the relevant waters to conduct its first navigation test,” Chinese communist outlet The Paper reported on Wednesday.

China’s boastful media propaganda failed to deter Western media from looking beneath the propaganda and finding that the aircraft carrier will now go through extensive sea trials with major cracks on the deck.

At the distant Changxing Island YuanSha Port dock, the aircraft carrier Fujian quietly sits. Google Earth’s satellite images present us with a stunning scene. Upon careful observation, you will notice two apparent fissures appearing towards the rear of the carrier’s flight deck; one in an L-shape, stretching 50 meters, the other a straight line, 30 meters long.

This shocking discovery has sparked widespread debate online. Although some netizens speculate that these might be arrestor cables photographed from high altitude, from another perspective, they indeed resemble cracks.

Moreover, these supposed cracks’ location at the rear of the carrier does not align with the usual position of arrestor cables. Another guess is that these could be cracks in the special coating material on the deck. However, if the coating could crack so significantly, it reflects that the flatness of the deck fails to meet the required standard.

How then, could such a deck guarantee the safe take-off and landing of aircraft? Those with knowledge inside the CCP have highlighted that an aircraft carrier is a complex entity that demands comprehensive capabilities for its operation. It is not simply a matter of constructing a large, flat ship and placing aircraft on top of it. The internal workings of an aircraft carrier consist of numerous intricate systems, such as steam turbines, communication systems, logistics systems, avionics systems, and personnel systems, among others.

Additionally, an aircraft carrier relies on the support of airborne early warning aircraft, escort systems, and supply ships, forming a multifaceted network. China still faces significant deficiencies and noticeable gaps in the overall carrier system. Therefore, last August, after Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan, China conducted military exercises around Taiwan, but their aircraft carriers were noticeably absent.

The absence of aircraft carriers from such a large-scale exercise may stem from two reasons: first, China’s carriers may genuinely be incapable of participating in large-scale group combat exercises; second, their participation might expose the carriers’ weaknesses.

“The sea trials will primarily test the reliability and stability of the aircraft carrier’s propulsion and electrical systems,” reported China’s official news agency, Xinhua News Agency, on Wednesday.

The Fujian’s sea trial coincides with heightened tensions in the South China Sea where the Chinese Coast Guard has continually clashed with the Philippines Coast Guard, near Second Thomas Shoal.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has envisioned transforming the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) into a blue water force that can project power well beyond the Chinese mainland.

On Tuesday, Shanghai’s Maritime Safety Administration issued a traffic safety notification without specifying the sea trial of the Fujian, only mentioning a “large ship.” A vague admission about the ship’s inability to move on power and may break down in the sea.

But the Chinese state media’s sea trial news about the Fujian, also known as Type 003, coincided with the traffic safety notification, verifying details about the location of the trials.

According to the notification, the PLA Navy will carry out trials roughly 90km in the sea from Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard. The first test will be conducted between May 1 and May 9, according to Shanghai’s Maritime Safety Administration.

The Fujian, China’s second domestically built aircraft carrier, has been undergoing mooring trials at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai after officially launching in June 2022.

The Shandong, China’s first home-built carrier, was officially launched in April 2017 and went through nine sea trials before being commissioned formally in December 2019, Hong Kong newspaper The Standard reported on Wednesday.

Beijing’s original carrier is an upgraded 1988 Soviet-era craft called the Liaoning.

But the Fujian is considered China’s most advanced warship, designed with new technologies that have skipped a generation or more.

China’s third aircraft carrier, the Fujian. The craft has jet launching technology, a generation behind the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, and has one less runway and runs on diesel. The Ford is nuclear-powered. China Central Television

the Fujian, which has three launch tracks compared to the Ford’s four, is powered by conventional diesel rather than nuclear, limiting its operational range and requiring more frequent refueling.

The Ford, is Washington’s latest and most advanced aircraft carrier. It was launched in November 2013, handed over to the U.S. Navy in May 2017, and commissioned by former President Donald Trump in July 2017.

It went through a five-year period of sea trials beginning in 2017 and was deployed at sea for the first time in November 2022.

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