World Aircraft Carriers List: China

Revised 26 November 2001
Version 2.07
Compiled and Maintained by: Andrew Toppan
World Aircraft Carrier Lists Main Page:

Wei Sheng class small seaplane tenders
Wei Sheng
Teh Sheng

Shichang multirole support ship

New Aircraft Carrier Programs

Wei Sheng class small seaplane tenders

Displacement: 932 tons
Dimensions: 205.5 x 31 x 8 feet/62.6 x 9.5 x 2.4 meters
Propulsion: 3300 hp, 16 knots
Crew: 93
Armor: probably none
Armament: 1 120 mm SP, 1 75 mm DP, 4 MG
Aircraft: working deck for 2 seaplanes

Concept/Program: Two small gunboats converted to support seaplanes, but never actually employed with aircraft.

Design/Conversion: Minimal; aft deck cleared for seaplane servicing, and hoisting gear fitted.

Departure from Service/Disposal: Scuttled as blockships in 1937.

Wei Sheng
Teh Sheng
Photos: [Wei Sheng or Teh Sheng].

Construction details unknown. Both launched 1922, modified as seaplane tenders 1929-1930. Were undergoing modifications (details unknown) in 1937; scuttled at blockships in the Yangtze 11 August 1937.

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Shichang multirole suppport ship

Displacement: 9,500 tons full load
Dimensions: 410 x ?? x ?? feet/125 x ?? x ?? meters
Propulsion: diesels?
Crew: 200 including cadets
Armament: none
Aircraft: large aft helicopter deck; two landing spots.

Concept/Program: A multirole support ship, essentially a scaled-down version of the Royal Navy's Argus. Her roles are officially stated to include cadet training ship, helicopter training ship, hospital ship, disaster relief ship, and container/logistics ship. Various mission-specific modules can be carried on the flight deck, including troop/cadet berthing modules, and helicopter support modules. Clearly she is meant as the first step towards an aircraft carrier/helicopter carrier capability.

Photos: [none available].

Built by Quixin Shipyard, Shanghai. Completed 28 December 1996 but remained at the shipyard into 1997 fitting out; not seen at sea until mid-1998.

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New Aircraft Carrier Programs

Concept/Program: Litte is known about China's aircraft carrier programs, but it is known that one or two carriers are in the long-term naval plan. The Chinese have reportedly held discussions with the French and Russians concerning design and construction of new carriers, and have considered purchase of ex-Russian ships. Plans for purchase of old carriers have been abandonded, but there appears to be a continued desire and plan to acquire a carrier within the first decade of the 21st century.

During 1999 there were several reports that China had started construction of a 48,000 ton aircraft carrier. The reported start date was 2 Aug 1999; the ship would have steam propulsion, carry 24 aircraft, and feature and angled deck and VLS. However, the reported completion date was 2003, an impossibly short time (4.5 years) for a ship over seven times larger than any other warship built by the Chinese to date. Therefore the reports cannot be considered accurate, and must be regarded as rumor or propaganda until confirming evidence is produced.

The hulk of the Australian light carrier Melbourne, purchased for scrapping in 1985, remained in Chinese hands in 1994. The ship was being studied by naval designers.

During 8/1998 the ex-Soviet aviation cruiser Minsk was towed from a South Korean scrapyard to a Chinese port. However, she has been converted to an entertainment complex for civilian use. The former Soviet/Ukrainian carrier Varyag was towed out of the Black Sea en route to China on 1 November 2001, intended for a similar conversion. The ship had never been completed as a carrier, and had been an unmaintained hulk for a decade before she was sold.

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