BEIJING, April 5 (Xinhua) --Finally comes the time to say goodbye! On April 2, a colossal aircraft carrier called Minsk that had moored in Shenzhen city for 16 years bade farewell to local citizens. The carrier will be taken to a new destination, Nantong city on the Yangtse River in Jiangsu Province and moored to the west of Sutong Yangtze River Bridge as part of a new theme park that will be opened in 2017.
Named after the capital of Belarus, the Minsk at 90 meters long and 10 meters wide is truly an impressive site. It was a second generation soviet-era aircraft carrier complete with what were then state-of-the-art antisubmarine and anti-aircraft defenses. It served the Soviet Pacific Fleet and later the Russian Navy, from 1978 to 1994.
After the retirement in 1995, the carrier was sold to a South Korean businessman, and later resold to a Chinese company. From then on, it became part of a military theme park in Shenzhen city which is called the Minsk World.
The carrier was a real hit when it landed in Shenzhen at the very beginning. Deng Keli, head of the engineering department of the Shenzhen Minsk World, who took care of the carrier for years, said, "people in Shenzhen have a strong affection to the Minsk ship. In the first two years after it arrived, the ship received about 30,000 tourists per day. All the tickets were sold out immediately, it was hard to get one at the time. For the past 16 years, the ship has received over 10 million visits."
People in Shenzhen city lined up to take the last glance at the Minsk
On the morning of April 2, a drizzle stole over Shenzhen. On the outskirts of the city, people lined up to take the last glance at the Minsk. Ms. Wu who lives near the Minsk World said, "the Minsk ship has been like an old friend keeping me company for years. The thought of not seeing it around in my life makes me feel bad. "
Other citizens who came to see the Minsk off wandered around the gigantic vessel. They chatted to each other about their anecdotes with the Minsk, burst into laughter from time to time and took photos with it flashing "V" signs for victory.
People in Shenzhen city took photos with the Minsk on April, 2
When the Minsk set off at two o'clock in the afternoon, people stood at the deck waving goodbye to the ship as the it drifted away. The aircraft carrier is said to be towed to Zhoushan islands for refit. After the refit is completed, it will head to its final destination and meet new friends in about a week.