INS Vikramaditya begins voyage to India

The Vikramaditya is going out to the sea under the Indian flag for the first time. Source: Sevmash press service

The Vikramaditya is going out to the sea under the Indian flag for the first time. Source: Sevmash press service

The Indian Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier will be refuelled at the Murmansk port before setting sail for Karwar in south-western India.

Early Tuesday morning when it was still dark in Severodvinsk and the tide had come in, the Sevmash and Zvezdochka tugboats drove the INS Vikramaditya away from the harbour wall and made a turn heading north. “A temperature of minus four degrees and a little bit of snow,” as the Sevmash shipyard’s press service official Yekaterina Pilikina described the situation, did not intimidate Severodvinsk residents that included officers of the Indian Navy surveillance team, their wives and wives of the sailors on board the ship, who came to see off the ship.

It was still dark when the sailors, off their watch duty, lined up on the deck with glowing lights and raised the tricolour and sang Russian and Indian hymns. Commodore Suraj Berry, on behalf of his crew and his country, once again thanked the shipbuilders for their work, the city and its residents for their hospitality, and said goodbye to everybody in Russian.

Having safely passed the exhaust duct, the carrier took its place at an anchorage. Here it will be filled with fuel and will then undergo customs procedures. Then it heads to the Barents Sea and Murmansk, where the ship will be met by an Indian escort tanker and a frigate. And from there, the Vikramaditya under Suraj Berry’s command will head to the Indian port of Karwar.

According to preliminary calculations, the trip to the destination will take 45-50 days if they go through the Suez Canal. If they go around Africa, it will be another 10-12 days. Regardless of the route, the crew and the ship will (among other things) have to verify the air conditioning systems in tropical conditions where refrigeration machines and air conditioners will have to be turned on to the maximum. In the extreme north, even on very hot summer days, no matter how much you try, you cannot create such conditions.

Partly for this reason, a team of plant specialists together with a crew of sailors will depart to Indian shores. Sergei Marichev, Deputy General Director of Sevmash, whose words are quoted by the wharf’s press service, today named their exact number – 177. These people participated in the tests and have detailed knowledge of all the ship’s systems units, so that if necessary, they could provide technical assistance to the Indian crew during the long trip.

Marichev says, “Some of them will remain in India in the home port for warranty service, which we will be carrying out during the year. After that, we plan to sign a service contract for the ship with the Indian party for a period of 20 to 40 years.”

The large ship was in the factory’s waters for more than a decade. At Sevmash, the main part the 2004 contract for the repair and renovation of the heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov was executed. Here, it was converted into a full-fledged aircraft carrier to be used by the Indian Naval Forces. Essentially reborn, the ship was officially handed over to the Indian side on November 16.

Previously, the date of dispatch of the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier to its permanent base was Saturday, November 30, but considering the extent of the ship’s readiness, its exit was moved a few days ahead at the request of the Indian crew’s commander Commodore Suraj Berry.

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