The launch of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier here on Monday was the crowning glory for Cochin Shipyard and the city of Kochi, the history of which is wedded to the rapid growth in maritime business and, in the near term, with the growth of the 41-year-old shipyard and its achievements.

The Queen of the Arabian Sea is at the centre of India’s historic achievement in joining the list of five countries, which have built their own aircraft carriers.

Cochin shipyard is the place where India took its first step in a long journey towards self-reliance in defence supplies.

Minister for Defence A.K. Antony said: “The achievement by Cochin Shipyard Limited reflects the new era of industrial growth in Kerala.” Minister for Shipping G.K. Vasan called it a “historic moment in the annals of Indian naval shipbuilding”.

The shipyard has come through difficult phases after it was established in 1972. The shipyard had its origins in the wave of protest action led by Communist leader A. K. Gopalan. He led a massive procession that passed before the Ernakualam Guest House where the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was staying on her visit to Kerala.

Today, the shipyard is a veteran of many battles. There is no parallel to this achievement for any shipbuilding facility in the country.

Trade union representatives S. Krishnamoorthy and K N. Satheesh said that the launch of the aircraft carrier was the result of a collective effort for which every employee of the shipyard can be proud.

K. Vijayachandran, who did a study of the financial condition of the shipyard and its prospects for the future way back in the mid 1980s at the invitation of the trade unions, said that the shipyard has had a major breakthrough and had brought great credit to the city of Kochi.

He added that Cochin Shipyard’s glowing example should be incentive enough for the government to place more of its defence orders with the shipyard or other public sector facilities. The achievement by CSL highlights that our shipyards are capable of doing difficult jobs, he said.

The floating out of the first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant has justified the granting of Category I Mini Ratna status to the shipyard in July 2008.

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