Amidst chanting of hymns from the Atharva Veda, Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier, decommissioned on 31 January 1997, was reborn today as Smt Elizabeth Antony, wife of the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony, christened India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) as ‘Vikrant’ meaning “courageous” or “victorious” in Sanskrit.
In a colourful ceremony filled with traditional pomp and fervour at the Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kochi, Smt Antony launched ‘Vikrant’ in the presence of Shri AK Antony, the Minister of Shipping, Shri GK Vasan, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral DK Joshi, the F-O-C in C Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, Commander-in-Chief Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Chairman and Managing Director, CSL, Commodore (Retd) K Subramaniam and other officials of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Shipping. In addition, a multitude of Naval officers, yard workers and a few members of the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), the manufacturers of the indigenous warship grade steel, were also present.
At the launch, marking the end of Phase- I of the project, the imposing ramp of the 37,500 tonne Short Take off but Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) Carrier boasted the indigenous design and build capabilities of the country. The ship has attained its designed length of about 260 m and is almost at its maximum breadth of 60 m. The main landing strip is ready. Over 80% of the structure, containing about 2300 compartments has been fabricated, over 75% has been erected, all the major machinery, such as the two LM2500 Gas Turbines developing a total power of 80 MW, the diesel alternators capable of producing about 24 MW and the main gear box have been fitted. Soon after Vikrant floated perfectly upright, she was launched out into the Ernakulam Channel in a pontoon assisted precision manoeuvre. Vikrant was moved out of the building dock to be positioned in the refitting dock where the next Phase of outfitting will be completed.
Describing the occasion as a ‘momentous’ one, Shri Antony said,“ Today’s launching of the IAC marks just the first step in a long journey, but at the same time, an important one.” He said it was indeed a proud moment for the country to witness our efforts at achieving self-reliance in the field of warship design and construction, as only a very few advanced countries in the world possess the capability to design and build aircraft carriers.