Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that INS Vikramaditya will significantly enhance the ‘Blue Water’ capability of the Indian Navy. He stressed that a country’s economic prosperity and development were deeply linked to maritime power, security and infrastructure. “This is a proud moment for India. INS Vikramaditya will add tremendous might and strategic power to our Navy,” he said.
June 14, 2014, was indeed a red-letter day in the annals of the Indian Navy (IN) when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated INS Vikramaditya to the nation. INS Vikramaditya, the largest warship ever to be acquired by India at the staggering cost of Rs. 15,000 crore ($2.3 billion), is the largest, biggest and the costliest military platform. It was indeed of huge historic significance to our country when the Prime Minister readily consented to dedicate this most potent instrument of maritime power projection to the nation. The dedication was meticulously planned to demonstrate the emerging prowess of the Indian Navy, armed to the teeth to boldly discharge its primary responsibilities. INS Vikramaditya was at sea off Goa and operating in the company of ten other frontline warships of the Indian Navy’s ‘Sword Arm’ – the Western Fleet. This was the classic setting for the Prime Minister of India to be received on board to do the honours of dedication, in a formidable maritime power environment.
To lend credibility to this unique event, the Prime Minister was accompanied by the Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar, the Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur. While Admiral Robin Dhowan, the Chief of the Naval Staff, was the chief host, the Prime Minister was received onboard INS Vikramaditya by Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, and Rear Admiral A.K. Chawla, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Fleet.
During the traditional “Prime Minister’s Day at Sea,” he witnessed ‘Air Power Demonstration’ by various naval aircraft including MiG-29K, Sea Harriers, P-8I, long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, TU 142M, IL 38 SD, Dornier aircrafts and Kamov and Sea King helicopters. He also witnessed high speed manoeuvres by Western Fleet ships including the other aircraft carrier INS Viraat, Delhi class guided missile destroyers Mysore and Mumbai, stealth frigates Tarkash, Talwar and Teg, guided missile frigates Betwa and Godavari and fleet tanker Deepak amongst others. All three dimensions of the brute naval power were demonstrated to the Prime Minister. Significantly, for the first time the dedicated naval communication satellite, Rukmini was most effectively used to telecast live the events on board INS Vikramaditya. Also for the first time the live telecast took place from a moving platform.
Prime Minister Modi also interacted with officers and sailors onboard and congratulated them on their hard work and dedication in fully operationalising INS Vikramaditya in such a short period. In his address to the personnel of the fleet, the Prime Minister stated that INS Vikramaditya will significantly enhance the ‘Blue Water’ capability of the Indian Navy. He stressed that a country’s economic prosperity and development was deeply linked to maritime power, security and infrastructure. “This is a proud moment for India. INS Vikramaditya will add tremendous might and strategic power to our Navy,” he said while dedicating the newly acquired carrier to the nation. While India does not aim to threaten other countries, neither will it “ever bow down” before anyone, he added.
Considering that INS Vikramaditya was commissioned on November 16, 2013, at Severodovinsk, in the northern region of Russia, set sail homewards on maiden passage, carried out essential balance of works for the onboard aviation trials, training aviation crew for deck recoveries and launches, seven months was too short a period for these outstanding achievements. Tall as a 26-storey building with built-up area spanning over three football fields, INS Vikramaditya with displacement of 44,500 tonnes marks the coming of age for the Indian Navy and its commitment to safeguard the maritime interests of the country, providing a potent instrument for maritime diplomacy. With an overall length of 284 metres and a width of 60 metres, this floating airfield is equipped to carry a maximum of 34 aircraft such 24 MiG-29K/Sea Harrier fighters, Kamov-31, Kamov-28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters. The landing area spans over 198 m. The ship is now fully operational with Indian pilots taking off and landing the MiG-29K naval combat aircraft. Manned by a highly professional and competent crew of 110 officers and 1,500 sailors, the ship can steam at maximum speed of 30 knots (about 55.5 kmph) on the strength of her eight boilers producing a combined thrust of 1,80,000 shaft horsepower. The ship has a maximum operating range of 7,000 nautical miles (about 12,964 km) at economical speed of 18 knots (about 18.3 kmph).
Describing potential of Vikramaditya, former Navy Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash had said, “Carrying a mix of supersonic, fourth generation MiG-29K fighters, Kamov-28 anti submarine warfare and Kamov-31, airborne early warning helicopters, the Vikramaditya promises to transform the maritime balance of power in the Indian Ocean. Calling the ship a ‘game-changer’ is not mere hyperbole.”
Admiral Sureesh Mehta, former Chief of the Naval Staff, had expounded the strategic significance of Vikramaditya, when he said, “Vikramaditya will dramatically increase the reach of the Indian Navy, creating a sanitised bubble of 380 nautical miles (550 km) around the battle group, essential for conducting distant area operations in Indo-Pacific.”
Vikramaditya which literally translates into “Strong as the Sun” and has a motto, “Strike Far, Strike Sure” is now fully geared up to be blooded as an awesome combat arm of the Indian Navy.