TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- China's first aircraft carrier the Liaoning entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) at 2:40 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), just after it had docked for a five-day port call in Hong Kong where it had been mocked for its rust and peeling paint by visitors of the aging Soviet-built vessel.
According to the MND, the carrier battle group left Hong Kong at noon on Tuesday and was bearing north to the west of the Taiwan Strait's median line.
On July 7, President of the Macau International Military Society, Huang Dong (黃東), posted images of the red anti-rust coating on the hull of the ship below the water line already showing obvious signs of rust and was quoted by the Apple Daily as saying, "part of the paint has peeled off, it's started to rust, it's quite obvious."
Huang indicated that the maintenance of the vessel was not up to snuff and said that details such as this are the difference between success and failure.
Close-up detail of the rust on Liaoning. (Image posted by 揾嚟搞 on LIHKG討論區)
The ship was originally known as the Riga when it was first laid down in a Ukrainian shipyard in 1985, before being renamed the Varyag in 1990. In 1998, after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was sold to China for $20 million.
In 2005, the ship began a process of being refitted and was eventually commissioned as the Liaoning in 2012.
This latest trip by the ship started from its home base of Qingdao on June 25 and was the first time it was escorted with a complement of other warships as it carried Shenyang J-15 fighter jets, helicopters, and other carrier based weapons.
It was during its port call in Hong Kong, it's first outside of Mainland China, that 2,000 Hong Kongers were allowed to board the vessel, which had the unintended consequence of many visitors noticing the large patches of rust on the ship.