Sunday, 28 July 2013

Gorshkov one step closer to Indian Navy

India’s much-delayed Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, which sailed out into the Barents Sea earlier this month ahead of its Indian induction, cleared critical trials on Saturday, when it cruised at its top speeds of over 30 knots without any glitch.

It was during such a trial last year that the 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier gave indications of trouble in its propulsion system in the form of a boiler malfunction and had to be returned to the Sevmash Shipyard in northern Russia for rectifying the glitch.

With the Kiev class warship clearing this crucial trial, it will now carry out manoeuvre trials when its ability to carry out combat operations would be tested, before it heads to the White Sea for the aviation phase trials of its air assets such as the MiG-29K maritime fighter jets and helicopters, according to sources in the Indian Navy here.

The sea trials in the Barents and White seas are part of its last-phase tests before it is formally handed over to the Indian Navy for sailing to India by November-December this year. Gorshkov, which has been rechristened INS Vikramaditya, will have Karwar in Karnataka as its home base.

The warship, which was ready by early 2012, had gone for similar sea trials in the summer of that year when all its systems, including propulsion, boilers, power generation and aviation systems, were tested.

After over several hundred hours of testing, a flaw was identified in the boilers, primarily because of its poor performance while attempting to cruise at top speeds, resulting in the warship not attaining its full combat-mode capability.

The trouble was identified in the low-grade Chinese-made firebricks used in the boiler insulation, instead of the usual asbestos. This prevented Sevmash from handing over the warship to the Indian Navy on December 4, 2012, as originally scheduled.

The boiler problem has now been rectified. But the sea trials are being repeated for all systems on board, before a 1,000-member Indian Navy crew and technical team headed by a two-star officer carry out the delivery acceptance trials.

“If all of the trials, both sea and delivery acceptance, go well, the warship will be delivered to India sometime in December 2013.

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