- Satellite images show facility at Yulin Naval Base in Sanya will be able to accommodate the giant warships
- The first of China’s next-generation carriers is expected to launch next year
The dock is located about 2.5km (1.5 miles) from a pier where a Type 075 amphibious assault ship and several smaller warships were seen berthing recently.
Two military sources said the dock was being built to serve the new Type 002 aircraft carriers.
Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, said the size of the dry dock suggested it would be able to accommodate warships even bigger than the 70,000-tonne Shandong.
Despite the size of the new dry dock, Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said it would not be able to handle all of the carriers’ maintenance needs.
“For more complicated repairs and comprehensive check-ups, giant ships have to go back to the shipyards in which they were built,” he said.
While conventionally powered, it will be fitted with electromagnetic catapults for launching aircraft, which are currently used only on America’s most advanced – Ford class – of carriers.
China plans to build two Type 002 carriers, but work on the second, which was supposed to start in 2018, has been delayed due to technical reasons, insiders said earlier.