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China's other aircraft carrier is a hotel


August 11, 2011

The mighty Kiev moored up at Tianjin

The mighty Kiev moored up at Tianjin

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After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 90's three of its most powerful aircraft carriers sat rotting in a Kiev dock. With disputes over ownership and no money or crew to maintain them, the ships were eventually stripped of their weapons systems and engines by the Ukraine and one was sold to a Hong Kong based company, ostensibly to become casinos off the coast of gambling-crazy Macau. As we now know the Varyag ended up in the Chinese port of Larian and spent 10 years being refitted as a fully functioning modern aircraft carrier, much to the consternation of its China Sea neighbors and of course the U.S. As the Varyag starts sea trials, its sister carriers have suffered a somewhat different fate.

The famous Minsk and Kiev were eventually bought by Chinese companies to become the centrepieces of 'military theme parks' in the cities of Shenzhen and Tianjin and after expensive restorations (the figure of $9 million is suggested - somewhat less than the Varyag) that is indeed what they still are, with displays of missiles and Mig jets on the enormous flight decks and tours around the operations rooms. On the Minsk in Shenzhen the staff dress as Russian seamen and strike up the occasional musical number for the reportedly thousands of visitors. Things sound slightly more ambitious on the Kiev in Tianjin with massive parties being held on the Red Square-sized deck and now the opening of the first suites of a hotel development within the belly of the carrier.

Judging by the pictures the headroom may be a little lacking and natural daylight in short supply in the Presidential Suites but the decor could certainly by described as luxurious and no doubt the service will be impeccable. The cost of staying at the suites has yet to be announced but if you are going to the area it surely couldn't be anything but a fascinating visit.

About the Author
Vincent Rice Vincent Rice has been an audio-visual design consultant for almost 30 years including six years with Warner Brothers Cinemas. He has designed several large retail installations in London and a dozen major nightclubs across the world from Belfast to Brno to Beruit. An accomplished musician and 3D computer graphics artist, Vince also writes for AV Magazine in the U.K. and the Loudscreen digital signage blog. All articles by Vincent Rice

The Varyag caused a storm when it transited through the Istanbul Straits 10 years ago. According to the agreement, China would send 1 million tourists to Turkey in exchange for allowing the rust-bucket to pass. Ten years later and many are saying \"I told you so...\"

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its funny how the chinese are. i think they are doing something pretty cool by checking out the dynamics of owning and operating a reasonably large carrier.

if they are smart they will only learn what they should have already known ( they have already developed anti-aircraft missiles and the danger of concentrating too many resources on one carrier at once is already well known) . that the future of aircraft at sea, of naval operations on the surface, and of navies around the world is SMALLER IS BETTER.

eventually the combination of VTOL drones and surface to air missile specialized high speed ships will render the need to carry f-18\'s and f-22\'s and stealth aircraft out to your enemies ocean totally useless.

the need for these planes is now and can be exclusively accomplished by overseas airforce bases without the need for conventional naval air craft carrier.


But unless your friendly with the Enemie\'s neighbour, a land base is no good. With Libya, Harriers on a Carrier would have been better for Bombing operations, than sending a heavier plane, Tornado, from Italy, and Mirages from mainland France, in that Instance due to Instability around Libya the only \'efficient\', read cheap method is a carrier. With 30-40 harriers and all ancillaries associated, rather than 10 tornado\'s out of an Italian Mainland base. Still need personnel on the ground to service and arm the drones. It\'s all about Fuel range, sometimes ships are the only means to the end.

Adam Slater

Having toured the Minsk at Military World in Shenzhen, I am surprised to hear that US$9M was spent on the restoration - she is in a very run down state - a sad thing fro such a magestic ship. Despite her state, it\'s still an interesting day out.

Andrew Larmour

Kiev does not have any docks... Nikolaev has shipyard, and Varyag construction was done there.

Vladimir Popov
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