‘Viraat decommissioning will not hit operations’

The proposed decommissioning of the aircraft carrier INS Viraat next year will not affect the Navy’s operational plans, readiness or capability, says Vice-Admiral S.P.S. Cheema, outgoing chief of the Southern Naval Command.

Vice-Admiral Cheema will take over the Mumbai-based Western Command, the sword arm of the Navy, early next month.

Both carriers operated by the Navy — Viraat and Vikramaditya — are part of its potent Western Fleet.

“The Navy mastered the art of carrier operations over five decades ago and has sustained it all through. Vikramaditya has now received the baton from Viraat and construction of the new Vikrant, the first indigenous aircraft carrier, is progressing very well and to the Navy’s satisfaction. We have a mix of platforms ensuring full fire power and capability to operate across the entire spectrum of naval operations,” Vice-Admiral Cheema, who had previously skippered Viraat, told The Hindu in an interview.

Flagging the long operational life of Viraat — 56 years in two navies — as demonstrative of a robust maintenance regime, he said the carrier became healthier after being inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987. “Our refit routine has helped it stand the test of time,” he said adding Vikramaditya was being fully integrated in phases. “There’s no need for any concern.”

The Vice-Admiral said the Navy had a streamlined refit and maintenance schedule for all its platforms.

The upkeep of the platforms ensured that none of the scores of ships and submarines that were mobilised for the recently concluded theatre-level war games, TROPEX, was forced to return to harbour for maintenance midway through the deployment. “These included both the carriers. The exercise, among other things, validated our ability to do sustained combat,” he said. “Which is why every Navy worth its salt wants to exercise with us.”

The measures taken in the wake of a spate of accidents included revalidation of standard operating procedures and strict adherence to them.

“Most importantly, our training at various levels has not got diluted,” he said.

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 9:27:58 AM |

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