Naval Air: April 9, 2002

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The former Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag, finally arrived in a northern China ship yard on March 3rd. It took four months to get from the Ukrainian yard where it was built. The Egyptians do not allow ships without engines to use the Suez canal, so the Varyag was towed down and around the coast of Africa. The cost of towing it all that distance was some $5 million. The Chinese paid Ukraine $25 for the Varyag, which was only 80 percent complete when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991. Much equipment was removed from the Varyag, or fell into disrepair, before a Chinese company came forward to buy the engineless hulk to be brought to South China and refitted as a floating casino and hotel. However, it has long been suspected that this was just a subterfuge by the Chinese navy to get the Varyag for military purposes. While it would cost several hundred million dollars to make Varyag into an operational aircraft carrier, the Chinese might consider this a cheap way to try out carrier operations. If nothing else, the Chinese could write off their Varyag expense as a learning experience. The business organization that bought the Varyag, did not obtain a casino license in the latest round of bidding for those scarce commodities. 

 


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