ARKHANGELSK, October 23 (Itar-Tass) - A ceremony to hand over the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (former cruiser Admiral Gorshkov) to the Indian Navy will be held at the military shipyard Sevmash in the city of Severodvinsk, Northern Russia, on November 16, the press service of the shipyard told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
“High on the agenda of the ceremony are a festive line formation of Russian and Indian Guards of Honour, the hoisting of the flag of the Indian Navy and the signing of official documents,” the press service said.
The forming of the Vikramaditya crew for a voyage to India is about to complete. According to sources, about 200 naval sailors arrived in the city of Severodvinsk from India in October, about 100 more naval sailors will arrive in the Russian city within next few days. During the voyage specialists from the trial crew of the Sevmash shipyard will be on duty onboard The Vikramaditya.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin noted that The Vikramaditya will be passed to the Indian customer on November 16, she will leave Russian territorial waters and will head for India on November 30. He also noted that the trial tests of the aircraft carrier passed successfully, all malfunctions, which were found during the trials in the previous year, were eliminated fully. Moreover, the deputy prime minister noted that The Vikramaditya showed the faculties that surpass those envisaged in the design. In particular, the speed of the warship has made more than 29 knots (about 54 kilometres per hour) at the trials against planned 28 knots.
The aircraft carrier is planned to call at 14 ports and will arrive in the Indian city of Mumbai by February, Deputy Director General of the Russian main arms exporting corporation Rosoboronexport Viktor Komardin told reporters earlier.
It was initially planned that The Vikramaditya would be passed to India in 2008, later this deadline was moved to December 2012 over growing amount of works onboard the aircraft carrier. Respectively, their cost increased sharply. According to unofficial reports, the cost of works makes about 2.3 billion dollars (initially it was planned about 1.5 billion dollars). However, in the summer of 2012 malfunctions were found in the boiler compartment of the power unit of the aircraft carrier, therefore, the programme of sailing trials had to be wrapped up. By February 2013 the malfunctions were eliminated, the trials of the aircraft carrier continued.
According to the package intergovernmental agreement, which was signed in New Delhi in January 2004, the hull of the Russian aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov was handed over to India gratis with the condition of her modernization at the military shipyard Sevmash and her arming with the deck aviation of Russian production. Russia will also train the Indian crew of the aircraft carrier totalling about 1,500 people and will create an infrastructure of basing for the warship in the Indian Ocean. The service term of the warship is expected to make 30 years.
After the overhaul and reequipping at the shipyard Sevmash the full water displacement of The Vikramaditya makes 45,000 tonnes, the maximum length is 283.5 metres, the maximum width - 59.8 metres (it was increased by 8.8 metres - Itar-Tass eds). The warship can deploy 30 aircraft, including fighters MiG-29K and helicopter gunships Ka-27 and Ka-31. The numerical strength of the crew is about 2,000 people. The hull of the warship is provided with modern equipment, onboard systems and mechanisms. The aircraft carrier is provided with new navigation and radar systems, the systems of communications and aviation control. An absolutely new warship was actually created, according to the estimates of the shipyard Sevmash.