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ARKHANGELSK, October 10 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s defence shipyard Svemazh in Severodvinsk has finished the training of Indian specialists from the crew of the Vikramaditya (Powerful) aircraft carrier and awarded graduation certificates to them.
“This marks the end of theoretical training of the Indian aircraft crew under a contract with the Russian Defence Ministry. The training was conducted in Russia. Practical aspects were studied aboard the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier where Indian sailors will serve,” Sevmash’s press service said on Wednesday, October 10.
On September 23, the aircraft carrier returned under its own steam to Sevmash to fix the problems that popped up during sea trials in the White and Barents Seas.
The purpose of the testing was to check key systems and units, the main and auxiliary power plants, as well as communication and navigation systems.
Russia’s Northern Fleet aviation was involved in the sea trials: aircraft and helicopters flew around and over the ship in order to check its radar, air defence, communication and control systems.
During the first stage of the trials in the White Sea, the ship's physical fields were measured, and the crew practiced fuelling and fresh water replenishing operations.
“This is a mandatory procedure for all warships and is used for their protection from mines and torpedoes that respond to the magnetic field of a ship’s body,” Sevmash spokesperson Anastasia Nikitinskaya said earlier.
“The aircraft carrier has become completely autonomous, all of its onboard systems and mechanisms are working, it has its own power plant, galley and water supply system,” Igor Leonov, who is responsible for the transfer of the ship to India, said.
The ship was initially scheduled to be commissioned on December 4, 2012. However its transfer to India was postponed until the fourth quarter of 2013 after the problems during the sea trials.
“The Vikramaditya has undergone a considerable amount of testing. The tests of the aircraft and technical systems were almost fully successful. Planes and helicopters made dozens of take-offs and landings on the deck,” Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said. “However, the trials exposed flaws in the operation of boilers.”
“The problems are to be eliminated at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk by the summer of 2013. Sea trials will follow. The ship will be handed over to India in the fourth quarter of 2013,” the minister said.
Under a package inter-governmental agreement signed in New Delhi in January 2004, the body of the Admiral Gorshkov was transferred to India for free subject to its upgrading at Sevmash and armament with Russian aircraft.
Russia will also train the Indian crew of about 1,500 and create an infrastructure for the ship in the Indian Ocean.
The overall cost of the contract was estimated at 1.5 billion U.S. dollars, of which about 974 million U.S. dollars were intended for the conversion of the ship into a full-scale aircraft carrier. All work was supposed to be completed in 2008. However the completion date has been postponed. Russia claimed that the volume of work had been underestimated and demanded an additional payment of 2.2 billion U.S. dollars.
The Admiral Gorshkov was built in Nikolayev under the name of Baku and put to service in the Northern Fleet in 1987. It is 283 metres long, 51 metres wide, with water displacement of over 45,000 tonnes.
Sevmash is the only shipyard in Russia that builds nuclear submarines for the Navy. It employs over 25,000 people. Since its creation in 1939, Sevmash has built 45 surface ships and 163 submarines, including 128 nuclear-powered ones.