24 Sep 2012

Chinese navy's first aircraft carrier in service

5:04 pm on 24 September 2012

The Chinese navy has taken delivery of its first aircraft carrier as part of its plans to develop a modern and more powerful strike force.

State media say the former Soviet warship Varyag was handed over in a ceremony in the north-eastern port of Dalian.

The ship is expected to be used as a training platform while China builds its own aircraft carriers.

The BBC reports the ship was constructed in the 1980s for the navy of the USSR, but was never completed.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the rusting hull of the Varyag sat in dockyards in Ukraine.

As other Soviet warships were cut up for scrap, a Chinese company with links to China's People's Liberation Army bought the Varyag, claiming it wanted to turn it into a floating casino in Macau.

It took several years to finally tow it all the way to China, where it was then taken to a shipyard at Dalian for refitting.