China's first homemade aircraft carrier Type 001A ready to enter the water

Huang Panyue

China will shortly launch its first home-built aircraft carrier as part of its strengthened naval forces. Chinese media reports and military sources say the Type 001A carrier could hit the water as early as this week. The ship is what China needs to transform its navy from a small fleet into a formidable force capable of gaining dominance in the Pacific.

The giant ship, which is now at the Dalian Shipyard, has also been painted in PLA (Chinese People's Liberation Army) navy grey, meaning it is almost ready for launch. "I've seen some photos on the Internet before. Today I've brought a pair of binoculars with me and it looks magnificent in reality," said a military enthusiast in the Dalian.

The Dalian Shipyard /CFP Photo

In the shipbuilding industry, measuring tides and currents is an essential part of getting large ships safely into the water. Military enthusiasts on China's social media are predicting the new aircraft carrier may enter the sea later this week when the next astronomical tide occurs at the port of Dalian.

While the ship may appear complete, it is yet to be fitted out internally. Equipment such as radios and radars, even kitchen appliances, still need to be installed. Analysts believe it will take about one to two years for the new aircraft carrier to carry out functional debugging of devices, weapons and equipment, before the craft can begin sea trials by early 2019.

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