In mid-August the Chinese carrier (which some speculate will be named the Shi Lang) put to sea for trials. This was the latest development in a long and remarkable saga, which may reflect the strength and persistence of Chinese determination to develop a blue-water navy.
The ship is much better known as the former Soviet carrier Varyag. She was laid down as the Riga on 6 December 1985 as a sister to the current Russian carrier Kuznetzov, albeit with modified electronics (the phased-array radar of the Russian ship apparently did not work). The building yard at Nikolaev was in Ukraine, which became independent of Russia in 1991, and a 1993 Russian attempt to finance restarted construction failed. There were extensive reports, supported by satellite photographs, claiming that the hulk was being dismantled (in fact, it appears that the incomplete Soviet-era weapon systems were being removed).