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Vikrant-class Construction Program

In May 1999 the Government approved the indigenous construction of an Air Defence Ship (ADS) of around 24,000 tons displacement at Cochin Shipyard Ltd. (CSL), Kochi. In May 1999 the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, indicated that the manufacturing work on the Air Defence Ship would start in about one year's time. The ADS was to replace INS Viraat, which was due for decommissioning by 2010. As of 1997 it was projected that the Air Defense Ship (ADS) would be completed in around 8 years, that is around 2005.

On 14 June 1999 the Indian Government sanctioned construction of the indigenously designed air defense ship (ADS). The June 1999 Cabinet Committee on Security decision came seven years after the designs were originally conceived. It was reported that the Air Defense Ship would be built at the Cochin Shipyard at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore [ie, Rs.20 billion]. Another Rs.50 million would be spent on expanding CSL's shipyards warehousing space, extending its marshalling yard and acquiring new equipment. The vessel is the largest and broadest ship ever to built in India. At that time CSL Chairman & Managing Director, Commander (retd.) M.K. Murthy said that plate cutting was expected to be conducted by 2003 and the vessel would be ready for sea trials by 2009.

Indian press reports of 11 April 2001 announced that the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CSS) approved the awarding of a construction contact to Cochin Shipyard for the construction of three Vikrant-class aircraft carriers. The announcement indicated that the carrier -- based on a French design -- would displace more than 30,000 tons. CSL will use a modular approach to reduce construction time from nine years to around six to eight years.

In February 2002, current Chief of Naval Staff - Admiral Madhvendra Singh, stated that the commissioning of the ADS will take eight to ten years since the shipyards had not yet being modernized. March 21, 2002 the Defence Minister Shri George Fernandes, in a written reply to Dr. (Shrimati) C. Suguna Kumari and Shri A. Narendra in Lok Sabha, stated that the Navy had reassessed their requirement and had proposed building a larger ADS (approximately 37,500 MT) which was expected to enter service after 2011.

As of early 2002 is was reported that the Air Defense Ship would be ready by 2008. But concerns were expressed that the pace of modernising naval shipyards had affected indigenisation. As a result, plans to commission a new air defence ship (small carrier) might not be realised for at least a decade. This would upset India's plans of possessing three air defence ships in the next five years. While one could be the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, the Navy wanted to build the other two `smaller' carriers (which would, however, be larger than the present carrier INS Viraat) in the country.

On March 21, 2002 the Defence Minister Shri George Fernandes, in a written reply to Dr. (Shrimati) C. Suguna Kumari and Shri A. Narendra in Lok Sabha, stated that the ADS was expected to enter service after 2011.

The Indian government sanctioned 32 billion rupees (700 million dollars) in 2003 for the first vessel. Long awaited indigenously built aircraft carrier to be known as air defence ship (ADS), was approved by the Government in January 2003. It cost Rs 3261 cr. A provision of over Rs 200 cr was made towards augmentation of infrastructure facilities from the naval budget to enable Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL), Kochi serve the order for an air defence ship (ADS). It is envisaged that the yard would be incurring an expenditure to the tune of Rs 500 cr per year. The Navy proposed to have at least three carriers, so that one each can be deployed on the West and East coasts, while maintainence on the third can be carried out. The Indian Navy had two aircraft carriers, operated only the INS Viraat after the INS Vikrant was decommissioned in January 1997.

In April 2005 India began building this indigenously designed aircraft carrier that will take eight years to complete. at that time the keel laying was scheduled in October 2007, and the ship was expected to enter service in 2012. The ADS is being built at Cochin shipyard. April 11, 2005 will be remembered a red-letter day in the Indian Navy's quest for indigenous warship construction and significant milestone in the maritime history of modern India. On this day, the construction of India's largest warship project, the first indigenous aircraft carrier designed by India Navy's Directorate of Naval Design (DND), commenced at the Cochin Shipyard with the steel-cutting by Mr TR Baalu, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways in the presence of the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash and Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr Oomen Chandy.

Construction of the Indian ship was slowed by the non-availability of steel with the specifications required to build an aircraft carrier. The project was delayed because there was a problem of procuring the steel from Russia. The main obstacle had been acquiring 20,000 tonnes of the right standard of steel. The ADS was designed with a certain type of Russian steel in mind, but when it came to actually supplying the steel, Russia was unable to do so. But it resumed when constructors finally got the steel of higher specifications from Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL).

The keel-laying ceremony for India's Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) took place Saturday 28 February 2009. The country's Defense Ministry described the IAC, as "a milestone in Indian shipbuilding." Developed by the Navy Design Organization and to be built at the Cochin Shipyard in the country's south, the ship was to enter service with the Navy in late 2014.

Amidst chanting of hymns from the Atharva Veda, on 12 August 2013 Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier, decommissioned on 31 January 1997, was reborn today as Smt Elizabeth Antony, wife of the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony, christened India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) as ‘Vikrant’ meaning “courageous” or “victorious” in Sanskrit.

At the launch, marking the end of Phase- I of the project, the imposing ramp of the 37,500 tonne Short Take off but Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) Carrier boasted the indigenous design and build capabilities of the country. The ship has attained its designed length of about 260 m and is almost at its maximum breadth of 60 m. The main landing strip is ready. Over 80% of the structure, containing about 2300 compartments has been fabricated, over 75% has been erected, all the major machinery, such as the two LM2500 Gas Turbines developing a total power of 80 MW, the diesel alternators capable of producing about 24 MW and the main gear box have been fitted. Soon after Vikrant floated perfectly upright, she was launched out into the Ernakulam Channel in a pontoon assisted precision manoeuvre. Vikrant was moved out of the building dock to be positioned in the refitting dock where the next Phase of outfitting will be completed.

The IAC-I has two very large gear boxes weighing around 90 tonnes each -- the largest-ever to have been handled by the Navy. As of mid-2012 it was expected the induction timeline was 2017. After the launch of the ship in August 2013, the ship would be re-docked in the larger repair dock at CSL for facilitating erection of island superstructure and for completion of balance underwater work. Major outfitting work of the ship was scheduled for completion by 2016, after which basin trials and extensive sea trials of the ship would be progressed prior to delivery in 2018. As of mid-2013 it was planned that the INS VIKRANT would be floating out in 2017/18, with sea trials in 2018-19 and commissioning in late 2019/early 2020.



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