Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya has taken to the sea for final acceptance trials in Russia prior to delivery to the Indian Navy later this year.

“The INS Vikramaditya, steered by a crew of the [Russian] North Fleet, has sailed out to the White Sea to continue trials,” a Russian Navy spokesman told reporters on Thursday.

The trials will continue for three months, after which the vessel will return to the Sevmash Shipyard for the handover scheduled for November 15.

The ship was to be delivered last December, but failed sea trials after its boilers malfunctioned, preventing the vessel from developing its maximum rated speed.

The problem was pinned down to insulation material used as a replacement for health-hazardous asbestos at India’s request.

That was the third delay in the overhaul and modernisation of the former Russian aviation cruiser Admiral Gorshkov, under a $947-million contract signed in 2004, rechristened INS Vikramaditya. The ship was initially to join the Indian Navy in 2008, but delivery was pushed back by five years, while the cost of the refit jumped to $2.3 billion.

“No glitches this time”

Russian officials promised there would be no glitches this time.

“The ship will be delivered this fall, we cannot afford any more delays,” said Igor Sevastyanov, deputy head of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

An Indian Navy crew is aboard INS Vikramaditya to undergo intense training in handling the ship during the current sea trials.

The carrier sailed out for crucial pre-delivery trials in the early hours of June 8 from the berth of the Sevmash shipyard in the northern city of Severodvinsk.

India has already taken delivery of more than half of the 45 MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft purchased from Russia for deployment on Vikramaditya and indigenously built aircraft carriers.