INS Vikrant touches water today

Launch will catapult India into an exclusive club of nations capable of constructing aircraft carriers

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:13 am IST

Published - August 11, 2013 11:13 pm IST - KOCHI:

Indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant built by Cochin Shipyard Limited for Indian Navy docked at Kochi on Sunday.

Indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant built by Cochin Shipyard Limited for Indian Navy docked at Kochi on Sunday.

It will be a defining moment for warship construction in the country on Monday when the first indigenous aircraft carrier is floated out of its building bay at the State-owned Cochin Shipyard.

The launch will catapult India into an exclusive club of nations capable of constructing aircraft carriers — a daunting task given the architectural and technological complexity and prohibitive cost.

INS Vikrant, as the behemoth will be named after India’s first carrier, had an uneasy and delayed birth, with the idea of a future Air Defence Ship (ADS) buried in files for over a decade before receiving the government nod in 2003.

The progress in construction after steel began to be cut for it in 2005 was no less demanding. “It’s been a challenging journey so far, with availability of steel itself posing a problem, which was overcome when warship-grade steel was developed and manufactured indigenously. Then there were hold-ups in getting major equipment from outside the country, but we conducted periodic reviews to ensure that the work did not suffer,” Vice-Admiral K.R. Nair, Navy’s Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, who reviewed the project every second month, told the media on the flight deck of the half-done carrier.

“The quality of commercial ships built by Cochin Shipyard has been good, but it’s the first time they have built a warship. I’m happy they have risen splendidly to the occasion and proven themselves. While the second phase of construction is to follow, they have already done it in part in the first phase itself,” he said adding more challenges like weapon integration, laying out integrated networks like platform management and communication systems were in the offing.

Commodore Saibal Sen, additional principal director (naval design) and project director of IAC-1 (P-71), said all underwater equipment, including four gas turbines generating 88 MW of power, had gone into the ship’s hull. The indigenous component of the vessel was 90 per cent in the float category, 60 per cent in the move category and roughly about 30 per cent in the flight category. Barring about half the quantity of bulb bars imported from Russia, the entire steel used for the vessel was India-made.

Commodore (retd.) K. Subramaniam, chairman and managing director of the shipyard, said the build period of nine years envisaged for the Vikrant was comparable with the global standards, with the sole exception of the United States.

Captain (retd.) R.S. Sundar, the yard’s director (operations), said 2,500 km of cabling and 70 km of pip-laying would be done on the ship along with outfitting of other equipment before it got undocked again in June next. Some 4,000 tonnes of steel would be used on the Vikrant to create the island structure on the deck, its hull sponson and the angle deck before the next undocking.

Once complete, the vessel would have 2,300 compartments. By 2016, its propulsion would be set to trials and basin trials would begin in 2017. Weapon trials would be conducted by the Navy after its handing over in 2018. Naval dockyards would hand-hold the Cochin Shipyard in weapon integration, he said.

Commodore Nirmal Menon, heading the warship overseeing team at the shipyard, said laying of pipe and lighter equipment would continue during the two-month period between the Vikrant’s launch and its re-docking at the bigger repair dock.

Elizabeth, spouse of Defence Minister A.K. Antony, will break a coconut on the ship’s hull and launch it on Monday. Mr. Antony, Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral D.K. Joshi will attend the ceremony.

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