The naval arm of the PLA comprises one nuclear-powered ballistic missile armed submarine, four nuclear-propelled fleet submarines, one diesel-powered cruise missile submarine and some 51 patrol submarines. Surface combatant forces include 27 missile-armed destroyers, 44 frigates and some 52 missile craft. Sea trials of China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning (a former Soviet warship purchased from Ukraine), began in Aug. 2011. It entered service in Sept. 2012, initially only to be used for training.
There is a land-based naval air force of about 792 combat aircraft, primarily for defensive and anti-submarine service. The force includes H-5 torpedo bombers, Q-5 fighter/ground attack aircraft, J-6 (MiG-19) and J-7 (MiG-21) fighters.
The naval arm is split into a North Sea Fleet, an East Sea Fleet and a South Sea Fleet.
In 2006 naval personnel were estimated at 255,000, including 26,000 in the naval air force and 40,000 conscripts.