China today launched its third aircraft carrier, the most advanced and the first “completely domestically” built naval vessel, while Beijing sought to expand its navy’s reach in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Fujian aircraft carrier was launched in a brief ceremony at the Shanghai shipyard, official media reported.
The launch was delayed by two months due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai. It was to be launched on April 23, around the 73rd anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
The third aircraft carrier built by China State Shipbuilding Corporation Ltd has a displacement of more than 80,000 tons and is equipped with electromagnetic catapults and arresting equipment, the state-run Global Times reported. The aircraft carrier bears the name of China’s eastern coastal province of Fujian.
China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was a refit of a Soviet-era ship that entered service in 2012, followed by its domestic-built second aircraft carrier, Shandong, in 2019.
China plans to have about five aircraft carriers, according to official media. The next aircraft carrier China plans to build is expected to be nuclear-powered. The ship Fujian was launched in a “short but celebratory” ceremony, the daily report said.
A launching and naming ceremony was held at approximately 11 a.m., when the ship’s naming certificate was given to the senior officer to take delivery of the aircraft carrier.
Officials then cut the ribbon marking the launch of the third aircraft carrier, after which the ship left the dock and concluded the ceremony.
The Fujian, the “first fully domestically developed and built” aircraft carrier with catapults, has a flat, straight cockpit equipped with electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices, and has a full displacement of more than 80,000 tons, the report said.
After the launch, the carrier will start with mooring tests and sea trials.
Xu Qiliang, a member of the political bureau of the ruling Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, attended the ceremony.
It is the most advanced aircraft carrier built by China, state broadcaster CCTV reports. The Type 003 warship with a hull number of 18 is the first airline in the Chinese fleet to use an electromagnetic catapult to launch aircraft from the deck, which is faster than the older steam catapult system.