An article published on Tuesday on the website of the the China National Defence Daily – a newspaper run by the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army – gave a rare glimpse of the Qingdao home port of China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning.
According to the report, which has since been removed from the website, the port occupies a water area of a few million square metres, with a maximum depth of more than 20 metres and a fairway that is several hundred metres wide. It is protected by a breakwater that extends almost 10,000 metres into the water.
The naval base, on the south side of the Shandong Peninsula, is home to the North Sea Fleet, which oversees waters surrounding Japan and the Korean Peninsula. The base is less than 2,000km from the US overseas naval base in Yokosuka, Japan.
The base expands from the waterfront to the mountains across the road from the port, which houses large supplying facilities such as missile storehouses, chemical storehouses and armouries.
The missile storehouse is located in a cave deep in the mountain, at the end of a tunnel several hundred metres away from the entrance. The storage supplies ammunition for the carrier in training and combats in the future, the article said.
It’s no secret that the PLA has a missile storehouse in Qingdao, but this is the first time the military has openly admitted it. It also echoes earlier reports that said China would use its missiles to protect its giant vessels from being attacked in case of war.
Li Wen, in charge of the construction project of the naval port, said 3,675 residents from six villages, as well as more than 4,000 tombs and 500 fishing boats, were relocated within a year to make space for the site.
The newly built high-voltage substation and the power station near the pier are already in operation. They are divided into various units to ensure power supply for different kinds of vessels, the report said.
The oil reservoir is the largest one for military use in the region, providing fuel for the aircraft carrier as well as other vessels in the port.
“The fuel used in one refuel for the carrier is enough for more than 100 off-road vehicles to run until they are scrapped,” an official was quoted as saying.
Apart from fuel, the aircraft carrier also consumes a huge amount of electricity each day, equivalent to the daily power consumption of a medium-size city, according to the article.
Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, went into commission on September 26, 2012, and was named after the northeastern province. The 300-metre ship was refurbished and upgraded from the unfinished carrier Soviet Varyag, which China bought from Ukraine in 1998.
In April, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel toured the carrier at the naval base during his first official visit to China, becoming the first foreign visitor to do so.