First indigenous aircraft carrier to be named INS Vikrant

March 2nd, 2009 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) The first indigenous aircraft carrier that will be ready for induction into the Indian Navy by 2015 will be named INS Vikrant, after the first aircraft carrier that was imported in the 1960s and played an important role in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

“The decision to name this aircraft carrier after INS Vikrant is taken as the force has golden memories of this aircraft carrier, which retired in 1997 after 36 years of eventful service,” sources at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) told IANS.

The first indigenous aircraft carrier with 40,000 tonne displacement is under construction at the CSL. Defence minister A.K. Antony Feb 28 laid the keel of the warship, marking its assembling.

The British-built INS Vikrant, formally known as HMS Heculeaus, was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1961. The 20,000 tonne aircraft carrier, the first to be operated by India, was retired in 1997. It has since been converted into a museum at Mumbai and is the only World War-II era British built aircraft carrier to be preserved.

“The indigenous aircraft carrier will be different in many ways as its identification signal and signature will be known only to India. The identification signal of the imported carriers are also known to others,” the official said.

The name Vikrant is taken from the Sanskrit vikranta, meaning ‘courageous’ and ‘victorious’.

Despite a crack in a boiler, INS Vikrant engaged in combat against East Pakistan in the India-Pakistan War of 1971. Stationed off the Andaman and Nicobar islands along with Indian naval ships, INS Bramhaputra and INS Beas, the Vikrant was redeployed towards Chittagong at the outbreak of hostilities.

On the morning of Dec 4, 1971, the eight Sea Hawk aircraft on the Vikrant launched an air raid on Cox’s Bazaar (in present Bangladesh) from 60 nautical miles away. That evening, the air group struck Chittagong harbour.

The indigenous aircraft carrier will have Russian-built MiG-29K fighter jets, indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Kamov helicopters.

The indigenous carrier is designed to accommodate women officers as well - in case the government decides to approve deployment of women officers on warships in the future.

Women officers are currently not posted on board due to the present design of ships and submarines.

The indigenous aircraft carrier, which is the largest warship to be designed and constructed in the country, has made India the fourth nation to have the capability of designing and making a ship of this class.

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