Satellite spots China’s aircraft carrier Varyag

Satellite spots China’s aircraft carrier Varyag

Satellite spots China’s aircraft carrier Varyag

The Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag is pictured during its second sea trial in the Yellow Sea, approximately 100 kilometers south-southeast of the port of Dalian.

A satellite image of China’s first aircraft carrier has been captured as the vessel underwent sea trials in the Yellow Sea, a U.S. company said on its website yesterday.

The 300-meter vessel, a refitted former Soviet carrier, was photographed Dec. 8, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe Inc. reported after an analyst from the company spotted it when reviewing images five days later.

China bought the Varyag from the Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing the ship. It previously had no engines, weaponry or navigation systems, as the company who bought the ship had announced that it planned to transform the Varyag into a popular amusement park.

Turkey initially objected to the ship passing into the Aegean but high-level Chinese ministers visited Ankara to emphasize that the vessel’s passage through the Turkish Straits would draw thousands of Chinese tourists to Turkey. Turkey subsequently relented on its position and allowed the transit Nov. 1, 2001.

The Beijing government said earlier in December that the carrier had started its second sea trial after undergoing refurbishment and testing. The ship completed five days of trials in August, sparking international concern regarding China’s widening naval reach, amid growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a U.S. campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power.

The South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas and claimed by several countries, has dominated such disputes involving China, leading to friction with rival claimants such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.