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9-year wait ends: India finally has INS Vikramaditya

Antony attends handing-over,says at one point he had almost given up hope.

Written by Manu Pubby | Severodvinsk |
November 17, 2013 6:21:34 pm

For more than an hour,unrelenting snow and chilling winds came down hard on the flight deck of the INS Vikramaditya ,decorated in Tricolour to mark its commissioning into the Indian Navy. Then,almost by cue,as soon as Commanding Officer Suraj Berry signed the document certifying the handing over of the erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov,the snow stopped and the national anthem rung out on what is now the largest ship ever operated by the Indian Navy.

The ship,which currently does not have fighters embarked on board,is likely to set sail for India within a fortnight and reach its home port of Karwar in January,following which the Navy will operationalise it in a few weeks with the first landing of its MiG-29K aircraft.

India waited for nine years for this day,and Defence Minister A K Antony admitted candidly that they had “almost given up hope on the ship at one point”. For all that,the ship rechristened Photos: INS Vikramaditya has shaped up well with all work complete on the 44,500-tonne carrier.

Sailors and officers alike onboard the ship — which literally translates into ‘Strong as the Sun’,and has the motto ‘Strike Far,Strike Sure’ — are keen on starting the journey to India at the earliest to escape the Russian winter.

Antony described the transformation of the rusting Photos: Aircraft carrier commissioned in the Soviet era to this modern aircraft carrier as an “engineering marvel,which has tested the professionalism,capability and perseverance of the Indian Navy and the Russian industry”.

The Navy is confident that flight operations will soon begin on the ship,symbolising that it is fully operational. “The air crew is already trained,” Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi said.

In its long journey to India,the Vikramaditya will be escorted by at least five Indian warships that have already made their way to locations that will fall en route. On board Vikramaditya will be over 1,600 personnel,including an 183-member Russian crew who will assist in training as well as operating the vessel.

The Inside look

Presenting the first look at the insides of the carrier to Indian journalists,the Navy showcased the bridge from where the mammoth vessel would be commanded. Outfitted with the latest in navigation,communication as well as combat management systems,the bridge is a technological leap for the Navy. The crew quarters are also impressively roomier. The flight operations control room is part of the additions and has a live video link to monitor the aircraft.

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