Vikra­ma­ditya sets sail on fi­nal tri­als

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

In what is hoped will be the be­lea­guered Vikra­ma­ditya air­craft car­rier’s fi­nal set of tri­als be­fore it is handed to the In­dian Navy, the much re­fur­bished ves­sel, for­merly Ad­mi­ral Gor­shkov, is now in the White Sea. The 45,000-tonne Kiev class “avi­a­tion cruiser” will be put through a rou­tine of rig­or­ous test points over three months at the hands of a crew from Rus­sia’s North Fleet, be­fore it is brought back to its home dock at Severod­vinsk where it will be cer­e­mo­ni­ally handed over to an In­dian Navy crew by the end of the year.

All of this is con­tin­gent on the sea tri­als pass­ing suc­cess­fully and with­out in­ci­dent— de­liv­ery plans for 2012 end were stymied when sim­i­lar sea tri­als failed mis­er­ably with the ship’s fire­proof lin­ing in the boiler room failed lead­ing to ex­plo­sions at high speeds. It has taken all the time since to rec­tify and re­fur­bish the dys­func­tional ar­eas, which in­clude the ap­proved use of as­bestos. The ship is al­ready mas­sively de­layed: it was con­tracted for by the In­dian Govern­ment in Jan­uary 2004, and is slated for de­liv­ery just short of the du­bi­ous 10th an­niver­sary of con­tract sig­na­ture. Top In­dian Navy sources said that the ship was too in­grained in the ser­vice’s fu­ture fleet plan­ning, and there­fore it was nec­es­sary to keep an open heart and mind on a ship that the In­dian Navy had in­vested so much in al­ready.

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