türkçe links to original Turkish article
(Milliyet Newspaper, 16 November 2016)
Future 'floating disco' being towed through the Bosphorus
in November 2001.
In 2001 Russia was wrestling with the global economy in the
aftermath of the Cold War. Boris Yeltsin's government wanted
to compensate by selling the aircraft carrier Varyag, whose
construction had begun in 1988 but which could not be completed
because of a lack of funds.
Russia found a buyer in China in 1998, at which time the pretext
was given that the ship would be used by a small tourism firm
as a 'floating disco and entertainment location', in an effort to
by-pass the stipulations of the Montreux Convention relating to
warships transitting the Turkish Straits.
Turkey rejected the transit requests four times, citing Montreux.
But when Chinese officials promised to send 2.5 million tourists
to Turkey each year, Ankara relented (!). So on 1 November 2001
the motorless giant ship transitted the Bosphorus in tow in 5.5
hours, as startled residents along the strait's shore looked on.
What might have been...
The Varyag did not become a disco and Turkey didn't get 2.5
million Chinese tourists. After 12 years of work, though, the
Chinese government christened the Varyag as the aircraft carrier
'Liaoning' and delivered it to the Chinese army in 2013.
In response to criticism, the Chinese government announced that
the ship would be used for testing and training. Nevertheless,
yesterday the Chinese Fleet stated that the ship was ready for war.
Captain Li Dongyou told the Global Times newspaper that the
20-story high ship has 3,600 cabins and more than 1,000 personnel.
The crew's pay has increased tenfold over the past ten years to
1500 USD per month and they play football and basketball on
board. Building on the Varyag experience, China is constructing
a second aircraft carrier. Western sources say that the Liaoning's
fighting capabilities cannot compete with U.S. carriers.
Disco's loss is now the world's nightmare.