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Posted: 2/17/2006 8:41:25 AM EDT





today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=2006-02-17T083717Z_01_PEK155070_RTRIDST_0_OUKOE-UK-CHINA-CARRIER.XML&archived=False

Soviet-era carrier goes under the hammer and sickle

Fri Feb 17, 2006 8:38 AM GMT13



BEIJING (Reuters) - A lucky bidder may come away from an auction in China with their very own Russian aircraft carrier -- albeit one converted into a floating theme park with a movie theatre and restaurants.

Bidding is expected to start at a cool 128 million yuan (9 million pounds), Chinese media said on Friday.

The Minsk, a decades-old, decommissioned relic of the Soviet era, was first bought by a Chinese company for scrap metal in 1998 but then sold to an entertainment firm, which poured millions of dollars into turning the ship into a tourist attraction.

The carrier opened to the public in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen in September 2000 as the main draw of the military-themed Minsk Aircraft Carrier World amusement park.

A Chinese travel agency describes the theme park as "a harmonious combination of carrier appreciation, military recreation, typical seaside lifestyle in south China and military atmosphere".

The ship's attractions included torpedoes and a Russian dance troupe that performed folk dances, the agency says.

But the company that operated the park, Minsk World Industries Co. Ltd., sank deep into the red and was declared bankrupt by a Shenzhen court in March last year, the Beijing News reported.

The court commissioned a southern China-based auction firm to handle the March 22 sale of the ship, which the auction company confirmed on Thursday, it said.

Despite the company's collapse, the theme park had stayed in business and drew 33,000 visitors during the recent Lunar New Year holiday, the Shanghai Daily reported.
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