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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Nations' new hope ~ INS Vikrant completes successful trial

The good news for the Nation is - India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant on Sunday successfully completed a five-day maiden sea voyage as the performance of the key systems of the 40,000-tonne warship was found to be satisfactory, officials said.

An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighters, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft.  By its diplomatic and tactical power, its mobility, its autonomy and the variety of its means, the aircraft carrier is often the centerpiece of modern combat fleets.  

INS Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC-1),  is an aircraft carrier constructed by the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) for the Indian Navy. It is the first aircraft carrier to be built in India. The name Vikrant (Sanskrit vikrānta, literally "stepping beyond") means "courageous”. The motto of the ship is "Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah", which is taken from Rigveda and can be translated as "I defeat those who fight against me".

The ship’s design began in 1999, keel was laid in Feb 2009. The carrier was floated out of its dry dock on 29 December 2011-  basin trials were completed in Dec 2020, and the ship has started the sea trials on 4th August 2021 and will be commissioned into the service of Indian Navy later. The total cost of the project is reportedly Rs.23,000 crore approx..

The aircraft carrier,  set sail on Wednesday for the crucial sea trials ahead of its planned induction into the Indian Navy by August next year. “Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) ‘Vikrant’ successfully accomplished its maiden sea voyage today. Trials progressed as planned and system parameters proved satisfactory,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said. He said the ship’s performance, including of the hull, main propulsion, power generation and distribution (PGD) and auxiliary equipment were tested during the sea trials. “Trials, which were reviewed by Vice Admiral AK Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command on the last day, have progressed as planned and system parameters have been proved satisfactory,” Commander Madhwal said.

The delivery of Vikrant is being targeted to coincide with celebrations to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, he said. The warship will operate MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 helicopters, MH-60R multi-role helicopters. It has over 2,300 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1700 people, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers.

The aircraft carrier set off on its maiden sea trials, 50 years after its namesake played a major role in the 1971 war.  Vikrant has a top speed of around 28 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles. The IAC is 262 metres long, 62 metres wide and it has a height of 59 metres.  

Commander Madhwal said that the successful completion of the maiden trials, despite challenges faced due to the coronavirus pandemic, is a testimony to the dedicated efforts of a large number of stakeholders. Around 550 Indian firms including about 100 MSMEs are registered with the Cochin Shipyard Limited(CSL) and they provided various services for the construction of the IAC. India currently has only one aircraft carrier — INS Vikramaditya. The Indian Navy has been focusing on significantly bolstering its overall capabilities in view of China’s growing efforts to increase its military presence in the Indian Ocean Region. The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical to the country’s strategic interests.

INS Vikrant (the earlier one)  was a Majestic-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. The ship was laid down as HMS Hercules for the British Royal Navy during World War II, but construction was put on hold when the war ended. India purchased the incomplete carrier in 1957, and construction was completed in 1961. Vikrant was commissioned as the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy and played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. In its later years, the ship underwent major refits to embark modern aircraft, before being decommissioned in Jan 1997. She was preserved as a museum ship in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai until 2012. In Jan 2014, the ship was sold through an online auction and scrapped in Nov 2014 after final clearance from the Supreme Court.

The Indian Navy's first aircraft carrier had been  commissioned as INS Vikrant on 4 March 1961 in Belfast by Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. The name Vikrant was derived from the Sanskrit word vikrānta meaning "stepping beyond", "courageous" or "bold". Captain Pritam Singh Mahindroo was the first commanding officer of the ship.   On 18 May 1961, the first jet landed on her deck. It was piloted by Lieutenant Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani, who later served as admiral and Chief of the Naval Staff of India from 1984 to 1987.  

Jai Hind !  … .. hail Vikrant !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Aug 2021.
PS: newly indigenously built INS Vikrant photos from Twitter. 

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