Vikramaditya sets sail on final trials
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.