In theory, any drydock that can assemble a VLCC or ULCC --- and China has a good bunch of those --- can assemble a carrier, assuming you have the cranes that can lift the huge modules. The problem is the manpower being trained for this. You have to go train the drydock workers, then have them certified under strict tests before you can begin.You sure China have the manpower and resources to build 3 at once ?
So as we had discussed previously, the 5-6 years spent per carrier in a shipyard is done in different stages.So just doing the math, assuming a construction speed of roughly 5 years per carrier with both Shanghai and Dalian building carriers concurrently, we could expect up to 6 new carriers by 2035. Add that to the three that are either complete or currently under construction, and we’d be looking at 9 carriers. The bigger bottleneck will probably be aircraft production, at the current rate...
An update on the 20MW-class steam turbine generator: it has passed the full-cycle test.
I agree with your conclusion on shipyard, but the limitation do not come from navy, but the national plan. When they build one carrier, they need have more destroyer, submarine, seamen... it is a huge project. So I assume they may build 2 carriers in every five-year-plan. The current 003 #1, and possible 003 #2 will be finished by 2025. Then in the next 2 five-year-plans, they will build another 4. So by 2035, they will have 8 carriers in total (including Liaoning and Shandong).So as we had discussed previously, the 5-6 years spent per carrier in a shipyard is done in different stages.
For the purposes of leaving a mark on this thread, let's assume an average 6 year overall production cycle from cutting of steel to finishing sea trials and getting ready for commissioning.
The different phases of a ship's lifecycle includes three overall phases for the purposes of us as PLA watchers:
- fabrication of modules: this involves cutting steel and fabricating modules and is done in assembly halls and in the staging areas in the shipyard where the modules are built before they are transported to the drydock itself for assembly.
- assembly of modules/assembly of ship: this involves transporting the aforementioned modules to the drydock and assembly the modules in the drydock for the actual assembly of the "ship". This phase of a ship's production cycle requires the drydock itself to be occupied, and finishes after the ship is launched from drydock.
- fitting out and sea trials: this phase involves the ship once it is launched and the various subsystems in the ship are installed at dockside, and the successive various sea trials done to work out the initial teething issues and make sure everything is safe and ready to be handed over to the navy.
For each of those three phases, from steel cutting, to handover to the navy, for the sake of discussion let's say it's 2 years each. For 6 years overall.
The thing is, for each of those three stages, you have different personnel working on each stage. The team who are fabricating the modules should be different to the ones assembling the modules in drydock and are different to the ones who are fitting out the ship with its subsystems and taking it out for sea trials.
Meanwhile, the space occupied by the "ship" is different for each of those three stages as well, meaning each shipyard can technically be working on at least three carriers at any one time -- one in module fabrication, one in drydock being assembled, one in fitting out/sea trials. It is essentially just a massive three stage pulse production line.
Obviously what I'm describing isn't anything new -- this is applied to virtually all modern shipbuilding and includes the PLAN's shipbuilding efforts as well. That is how we've seen so many destroyers built in such a relatively short time after all.
The below chart is just illustrative, and reflects a scenario where the PLAN really decides to "go ham" and shows how a single shipyard can theoretically sequentially build six carriers between 2021 and 2035 -- the 6th carrier would be in the water, in the middle of fitting out, so it would be 5 carriers handed over to the navy or in service.
(Each number represents the same single carrier progressing from fabrication -> assembly -> fitting out/sea trials. I start it in 2021 for the sake of discussion because it doesn't include 003 which began fabrication of course many years ago, and isn't represented or counted in the below chart)
Of course, for the sake of our discussion it would be the below but times two, given JN and DL would both be involved in carrier construction.
View attachment 62034
So, between 2021 and 2035, if the PLAN committed to it, DL an JN technically, theoretically could probably each have 6 carriers in the water by the end of 2035, or if we are only counting in service ships, that is 5 carriers each in service by the end of 2035.
Keeping in mind the above is not including CV-16, CV-17 or 003 (which would all still be in service by 2035) -- that is a technical total of 13 carriers in service by end 2035.
... But obviously, it is unlikely the PLAN are going to ask DL and JN to build that many carriers over 15 years.
For one, we know the PLAN is seeking CVNs eventually and I suspect they would prefer to move to CVNs sooner rather than later, and building too many conventionally poweredcarriers
And they're only starting to get into the CATOBAR game as well, so it's possible they might proceed somewhat cautiously for a few years and avoid sequential construction for a couple of years until the Navy has had a chance to play with 003 a little.
Not to mention the sheer number of aircraft, pilots, and human resources you need to man that many aircraft carriers and their battlegroup and airwing is immense... not to mention the PLA will be spending money on a heap of other things other than carriers and surface ships as well.
Also, it is very possible that a nuclear carrier production cycle might be longer than 6 years as well.
However, my point is that if the PLAN do settle on a design that they are happy with, and if they have the rest of the ducks in a row (in so far as the necessary aircraft, ships, crew, pilots etc) to equip carriers with, then it is very possible for the shipyards to build quite a significant number of carriers in the next 15 years.
That is to say, indeed, shipyard construction isn't the limiting factor.
Instead, the biggest factors are:
- the Navy's confidence in settling on a design for "mass production"
- the Navy's decision on what their balance of CVN vs CV fleet will be -- they're going to move onto a CVN design eventually, but it won't be in the near future and likely to be in the ,id-late 2020s at the earliest, so how many CVs will they build before a CVN?
- overall Navy's level of funding in terms of sufficient procurement of supporting systems (surface combatants, SSNs, carrier aircraft for its airwing) and human resources side of things (crew, pilots etc)... which is really just another way of saying what the PLA's overall state of procurement is
What do I smell?Halfway through the exercise, the US, Japan, and Australian warships left in a hurry. This is something that has never happened before the US military came out. Britain and France have to feel that the times are really slowly changing, and the US military is slowly declining.
I assume this is going to be paired with nuclear reactor to power new generation of nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers?