Vikramaditya's sea trials completed successfully

Vikramaditya's sea trials completed successfully

Faring well

Vikramaditya's sea trials completed successfully

Decks have finally been cleared for delivering the Russian-origin aircraft carrier Vikramaditya to the Indian Navy in November, as the gigantic ship and its fleet of MiG-29K fighters successfully completed a three-month-long sea trial on Tuesday.

The trials in the Barents Sea and the White Sea included high-speed movement as well as aviation trial from the carrier's deck under the watchful eyes of 30-odd specialists from the Indian Navy. The trial acceptance team had members from naval aviation and branches dealing with various aspects of operating a ship.

“The Vikramaditya will now go back to the Sevmash shipyard for a fresh coat of paint and final clean-up. We are expecting delivery around November 15,” said a naval source. The 45,000-tonne carrier is expected to arrive at its home base at Karwar in the first quarter of 2014.

The delivery of the ship was delayed by a year because last year's sea trials could not be completed due to defects encountered in the boiler furnace brickwork. Defects were found only in the boiler furnace brickwork at higher speeds, which meant that the ship could not attain its top speed of 30 knots.

After replacing the entire boiler furnace brickwork, a fresh round of acceptance trial was held over the last three months.

But when it will come home next year, the ship will not have the AK-360 close-in weapon system, capable of creating a protective shield around the ship by firing 6,000 rounds every minute. The air-defence gun will be fitted within a few months after the ship's arrival.

The progress in the $2.33-billion Vikramaditya project was reviewed when Defence Secretary R K Mathur visited Moscow earlier this month. Defence Minister A K Antony, too, is scheduled to visit Russia for a bilateral meeting before the actual delivery.

After the Vikramaditya's induction, India will be the first Asian nation to operate two aircraft carriers, as ageing warhorse INS Viraat is still going strong. The indigenous carrier Vikrant, currently under development at the Cochin Shipyard, is expected to be ready by 2018, and its induction may happen around 2020.