ARKHANGELSK, November 26, 12:03 /ITAR-TASS/. The aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (the former Russian cruiser Admiral Gorshkov), which was officially handed over to the Indian Navy on November 16, set out at 08:38 Moscow time (04:38 GMT) on Tuesday from the military shipyard Sevmash in the city of Severodvinsk, Northern Russia, and headed for India, the press service of the shipyard, at which the warship was refurbished, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday. The aircraft carrier under the command of Captain First Rank Suraj Berry is to cross several seas before she reaches the native coast.
The Sevmash shipyard added that after The Vikramaditya towed by the tugboats will set out from the harbour of the shipyard and will pass through the canal, will be anchored in the harbor in the White Sea for fueling. The warship will also pass the border control procedure. The next anchorage will be at the Russian northern port of Murmansk. There the aircraft carrier will be refueled, after that she escorted by an Indian tanker and a frigate will leave the Russian territorial waters and will head for India. About 180 specialists of the Sevmash shipyard and representatives of the enterprises, which are the parties to the contract, set out onboard The Vikramaditya in the crossing to a permanent base with the Indian crew. “They will supervise the operation of the onboard systems and will eliminate possible malfunctions urgently,” the press service said. “After the crossing several Russian specialists will remain in India to provide warranty maintenance for The Vikramaditya,” the press service reported.
According to the package intergovernmental agreement signed in New Delhi in January 2004 the hull of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov was handed over to India gratis under the condition of her modernization at the shipyard Sevmash and the equipping with the deck aviation grouping of Russian production. Russia also assumed the commitments to train the Indian crew of the aircraft carrier. The total cost of the contract was initially estimated at 1.5 billion dollars, all works to transform the cruiser in a full-fledged aircraft carrier was planned to finalize in 2008. However, the deadlines of the contract were delayed. Russia stated that the amount of works was underestimated and the additional funding to modernize the warship is needed. On March 12, 2010, during Vladimir Putin’s visit in India an additional agreement to change the cost of overhaul and modernization of the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (all-mighty) was signed. India reported that the purchase of the Russian aircraft carrier will cost 2.33 billion dollars. Her service life is planned to make 30 years.
In the previous year the aircraft carrier was brought back to the Sevmash shipyard for sailing trials to eliminate the malfunctions found during the trial. The handover of the warship was delayed for the end of 2012. Last summer after all malfunctions were repaired the aircraft carrier had successfully passed all sailing trials in the White Sea and the Barents Sea.
The Admiral Gorshkov, who was previously named The Baku, was put into service of the Russian Northern Fleet in 1987. After the overhaul and re-equipping the full water displacement of the aircraft carrier reached 45,000 tonnes, the maximum length - 283.5 meters, the maximum width - 59.8 meters (it was increased by 8.8 meters - Itar-Tass eds). The Vikramaditya was built with a modern takeoff deck, a takeoff ramp for fighters, navigation and radar systems, communication and aviation control systems as well as other special equipment and units. The warship can carry 30 aircrafts, including the fighters MiG-29K and the helicopters Kamov Ka-27 and Ka-31. The numerical strength of the crew is about 2,000 people. According to the Sevmash estimates, an absolutely new warship was actually built thanks to modernization.