The CNS Fujian, China's third aircraft carrier, is undergoing mooring tests, according to a People's Liberation Army officer involved in the colossal vessel's construction work.
Captain Yin Hongxin of the PLA Navy said on China Central Television on Tuesday that Navy personnel taking part in the Fujian's building project "have been steadily working on the mooring tests in accordance with project plans".
As a standard process in a ship's construction work, mooring tests refer to those conducted to examine the performance of equipment and machinery already mounted on the vessel when it is moored at port. The capabilities of ship components and their compatibility with each other are the focus of such trials.
In the TV program, Yin also said, "In 2024, we will continue to make full use of every minute and use all-out efforts to obtain initial combat capability (for the Fujian) as soon as possible."
He did not provide details on the new carrier's schedule.
The Fujian was officially unveiled in June 2022 in Shanghai as it was towed out of its dry dock at the China State Shipbuilding Corp's Jiangnan Shipyard.
Upon its completion, the gigantic vessel will displace more than 80,000 metric tons of water. It will be the largest and mightiest warship any Asian nation has ever built, as well as one of the world's biggest.
Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator and retired PLA officer, said on Wednesday that after the mooring tests, the vessel should sail back to its shipyard to fine-tune the equipment and machinery based on the test results and to clean up marine creatures clinging to the bottom of the hull.
Song predicted that after all of these procedures are done, the carrier might become ready for its maiden sea trial, through which the power, propulsion, navigation and communications systems are expected to be verified. The first trial is also expected to involve compatibility checks between the ship and scale models of fighter jets and helicopters, he said.
The year 2024 will be a very busy year for the new carrier's crew as they might need to complete all preparatory work for sea trials, Song said, noting that the trials are expected to take at least one year before the Fujian can be commissioned.
Currently, the PLA Navy operates two aircraft carriers — the CNS Liaoning and the CNS Shandong. Both have a standard displacement of around 50,000 tons and a conventional propulsion system, and they use a ski jump method for launching fixed-wing aircraft.
Compared with its two predecessors, the Fujian is much bigger and heavier, and has a larger flight deck and smaller superstructure.
The Liaoning underwent 10 sea trials before going into service, and the Shandong conducted nine before its commissioning.