|File photo of China's refitted aircraft carrier. The aircraft carrier left its shipyard at Dalian Port in northeast Liaoning Province on Wednesday morning to start its first sea trial. Military sources said that the first sea trial was in line with schedual of the carrier's refitting project and would not take a long time. After returning from the sea trial, the aircraft carrier will continue refit and test work. (Xinhua Photo)|
By Xinhua writers Yan Hao, Zhou Zhou, Fang Ning
DALIAN, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- China's first aircraft carrier set out on a low-profile sea trial Wednesday, its first journey under the Chinese flag. The vessel was swaddled in mist as it departed the port of Dalian, which had narrowly escaped tropical storm Muifa Monday.
Military sources said that the trial is in line with the carrier's refitting schedule and will not take a long time. Refitting work will continue after the vessel has returned to the port.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy behemoth is a former Soviet Navy aircraft carrier, which has been totally refitted for its new role as a platform for research and training.
"Anyhow, it's an object of pride," said a shipbuilding worker who identified his surname as Zhang, who worked on the ship's hull, stayed up all night to watch the carrier began its first sea trial.
The carrier departed from the Dalian shipyard where workers have been refurbishing the ship. Dalian is some 80 nautical miles north of the sea battlefield where 117 years ago the first modern Chinese navy fleet was ferociously bombarded and later vanquished by the Japanese navy.
It is still unknown where or for how long the carrier's first sea trial will last.
The Liaoning Provincial Maritime Safety Administration publicized a notice restricting navigation in waters off the Dalian coast, saying that vessels are forbidden from traveling through an area of sea 13.25 nautical miles wide and 22 nautical miles long in the northern Yellow Sea and Liaodong Bay from Aug. 10 to 14.