New Delhi, Nov 15 IANS | 2 years ago

The long-awaited commissioning of INS Vikramaditya, the country's second aircraft carrier and Indian Navy's biggest warship, will take place Saturday by Defence Minister A.K. Antony at Russia's Sevmash shipyard.

Antony Friday left on a four-day visit to Russia, where he will, with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu, co-chair the 13th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) in Moscow Monday.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, apart from Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, will be among those present at the function.

INS Vikramaditya would be escorted by warships during its journey to India. It is expected to reach India early next year.

INS Vikramaditya's commissioning is being described as "a game changer" in naval circles, and is expected to project India's maritime power far beyond its shores.

"INS Vikramaditya will bring transformational capabilities to the Indian Navy and will be a game changer. She will transform the face of the air arm fleet of the Indian Navy," a Navy official said. Vikramaditya is 284 metres in length, and with its beam of about 60 metres, it stretches to an area as large as three football fields. It has 22 decks and will have over 1,600 personnel on board.

The warship can carry over 30 aircraft, comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters. MiG 29K swing role fighter is the main offensive platform and provides a quantum jump for the Indian Navy's maritime strike capability, the official said.

The warship is powered by eight new generation boilers to enable the 44,500-tonne "floating steel city" to cut through choppy seas with speeds of up to 30 knots. The ship has provisions to generate 18 megawatts of power, enough to light a small town, and its plants can supply 400 tonnes of fresh water every day.

Negotiations over acquiring Admiral Gorshkov (which was re-named INS Vikramaditya) started in 1994. A memorandum of understanding was signed in December 1998, and the deal was made January 2004.

However, soon after the repair and refit of the ship commenced in April 2004, it was realized that the work and equipment requiring replacement was significantly higher than originally estimated.

A protracted renegotiation for arriving at a mutually acceptable price for refurbishment was held and finally, in December 2009, the Indian and the Russian sides arrived at an agreement on the final price of delivery of the ship and agreed that its delivery would take place in 2012. Officials said that the delivery was delayed due to malfunctioning insulation in boilers.

The warship went through extensive trials for its speed and other parameters in months before its scheduled delivery.

INS Viraat is India's only aircraft carrier at present.

After induction of INS Vikramaditya, Indian Navy will have two aircraft carriers in service.

(Posted on 15-11-2013)