ARKHANGELSK, July 4 (Itar-Tass) - Indian aircraft carrier Vikramaditya /the former Russian cruiser Admiral Gorshkov/ that has undergone modernization at the Sevmash shipbuilding yard in Severodvinsk, a Russian northern city on the White Sea, has begun a new stage of testing in the White Sea’s water area, an official spokesman for Russia’s North Fleet told Itar-Tass.
Captain First Rank Vadim Serga, the spokesman, quoted North Fleet Commander Vladimir Korolyov as saying the current stage of trial testing is special for the fact that the testing of mechanisms and equipment systems will be combined with practical drill sessions in the running and maintenance of the ship that will be done by Russian seamen for the members of the Indian crew.
“The crew of the North Fleet will have a task of teaching the Indian counterparts how to run this ship during the time it is out in the sea,” Admiral Korolyov said.
“The Russian crew currently on mission aboard the Vikramaditya focuses on supervising navigation safety, fire and explosion safety, and the effectuation of all the scheduled tests,” Capt Serga said.
According to the information provided by the Sevmash shipyard, flight tests of sea-based aircraft and the commissioning of the ship-to-aircraft system will begin August 3 when the Vikramaditya gets to the Barents Sea.
The Vikramaditya is due to return to Sevmash in the second half of October and the preparations for a voyage to India are due to begin upon its return.
Under a package agreement that Russia and India signed in New Delhi in January 2004, the hull of the missile cruiser Admiral Gorshkov was handed over to the Indian side free of charge on the condition that the ship would undergo modernization at Sevmash and the air wing assigned to it would consists of jets of Russian manufacture.
The agreements also envisioned that Russia would train an Indian crew of about 1,500 men and officers and would create an infrastructure for the ship’s deployment in the Indian Ocean.
Early assessments put the total cost of the contract at $ 1.5 billion and the plans suggested that all the works related to the ship’s equipment overhaul and its upgrading to a full-fledged aircraft carrier were due to be over in 2008 but the dates of completion of the agreement were then postponed.
The Russian side said the volume of works had been underestimated and more money was needed in reality to fulfill the plans for modernization of the ship.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting India March 12, 2010, the sides signed a supplementary agreement on an upward revision of the costs of overhaul and modernization of the Vikramaditya / the Omnipotent/ aircraft carrier. Indian officials say at present the eventual cost of the aircraft carrier will stand at around $ 2.33 billion.
The ships is expected to stay in service for the next thirty or so years.