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– India’s Russian aircraft carrier
The Indian Navy through-deck aircraft carrier Vikramaditya
(ex-Gorshkov) is 90.5% complete and within a year of commissioning.
recent visit to Russia’s Sevmash Dockyards in Severodvinsk
near the far northern border with Finland, where the new
Indian navy carrier is being completed, revealed considerable
progress. Since a previous inspection in June 2010, the amount
of work completed increased from 68.5% to 90.5%, according
the to builders. A critical boost was given last year, when India agreed
to pay extra for the refit work and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev
inspected the Vikramaditya and chaired a special governmental session on
Indo-Russian military technical cooperation in the naval sphere.
In November 2011 the Vikramaditya was seen moored at Embankment
Place 3 (outfitting jetty) with a MiG-29K on its flight-deck (having competed
its flying career, the development prototype now serves as a mockup). The
huge surface ship dwarfed the Dmitry Donskoi, a Project 941 submarine,
moored next to her, despite the fact of the latter’s full displacement is a
notable 3,000-tonnes larger that of the carrier.
The Vikramaditya has nine decks below the waterline and 13 decks
above it (with the superstructure counted in). The ship has 2,700 rooms
and compartments, and so can be likened to a 22-storey building when its
height is measured from the keel to the Fregat radar antennae.
Written notices at the Embankment where the ship was berthed advised
that the Vikramaditya was powered by ground sources supplying 380-Volt
three-phase electrical current and that 105 tons of turbine grease were
poured into her. A forty-minute journey through the ship revealed hordes
of workers everywhere: welding, cleaning, painting, installing and tuning
various equipment items. It was difficult to get through a maze of trunking
and cabling, using steep ladders and hatchways, as we climbed from Deck
4 all the way to the radar antennas on top of the superstructure and then
descending into the hangar before finally getting back to the Embankment.
Our way went through four out of ten ship’s “construction zones”.
Hundreds electronic equipment items were seen on their positions
powered up, although many were apparently in the need of fine-tuning.
This especially applies to the Operations Room and the Bridge. The
hangar, although well lit and painted, contains lots of small construction
paraphernalia that must be removed before aircraft arrive in here for
storage. Propulsive machinery was being tested at a “moored” mode.
Although the contractual schedule called for sea trials to commence in
December, the Indian side has agreed to postpone them until the Spring
of 2012 in the view of abnormally bad weather being observed in the area.
The main concern was that strong winds and extreme icing conditions in
the mouth of the Severnaya Dvina river might cause an earlier closure of
the narrow water passage into the White Sea’s expanse.
The builder has promised to complete the application of paint and
protective coatings all over the ship and have most of the equipment
fine-tuned before sea voyages begin. Should trials complete in time, the
Vikramaditya can go into commission as planned on the Indian Navy Day
of 4 December 2012.
Originally an aircraft-carrying cruiser known as Project 1143.4, the ‘Baku’
was laid down on 26 December 1978 at the Nikolaev Shipbuilding Plant
on the Black Sea coast. Subsequently the breakup of the Soviet Union
caused her to be rechristening as the Admiral Gorshkov, since the name of
Azerbaijan’s capital was no longer suitable from the viewpoint of national
identity and pride.
Public discussions on converting the Gorshkov into a through-deck
carrier began shortly after the navy decommissioned her in 1998 -
along with three earlier built sister ships Kiev, Minsk and Novorossiysk.
Their withdrawal from service had been influenced by Russia’s inability
to maintain numerous capital ships inherited from the Soviet Union.
Furthermore, the Yakovlev Yak-38 vertical takeoff and landing aircraft on
The view of the Vikramaditya
APDR Dec 2011.indd 46
11/01/12 6:04 PM
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