CMSI China Maritime Reports



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The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is building modern surface combatants faster than any other navy in the world. Before these new ships can be deployed, however, their crews must learn how to effectively operate them across the range of missions for which they were designed. In the PLAN, this “basic training” largely occurs at specialized organizations called Vessel Training Centers (VTCs). Since their creation in 1980, VTCs have played a key role in generating combat power for the fleet. But as China’s naval ambitions have grown, the VTCs have been forced to adapt. Since the early 2000s, and especially since 2012, they have faced tremendous pressure to keep pace with the rapid expansion and modernization of the PLAN surface fleet and its growing mission set, improve the standards and quality of vessel training, and uphold the integrity of training evaluations. This report argues that the PLAN’s VTCs have generally risen to the challenge, ensuring that new and recently-repaired ships can quickly reach operational units in a fairly high state of readiness.

Publication Date

November, 2022


China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S Naval War College


Newport, Rhode Island


China, China Maritime Studies Institute, CMSI, People’s Liberation Army, PLAN, Vessel Training Centers, VTC

China Maritime Report No. 24: Incubators of Sea Power: Vessel Training Centers and the Modernization of the PLAN Surface Fleet