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September 30, 2011

First Sortie of INS Vikramaditya Postponed For May 2012

(RUSNAVY) : As a result of inspection held by top-ranking Indian officers at Sevmash shipyard, general schedule of modernization works on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya was revised.

As was earlier reported by Central Navy Portal, delegation of Indian Navy officers headed by chief of ship building and procurement department Vice Admiral N.N. Kumar arrived at JSC Sevmash shipyard on Sept 20. Main result of the inspection was changing of pre-scheduled start date of Vikramaditya's sea trials.

Military cooperation with India has been always one of Russia's top priorities. This time, Indian delegation was met by a group of high-ranking persons headed by president of JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) Roman Trotsenko and leadership of Sevmash shipyard – acting director general Mikhail Budnichenko and chief engineer Alexei Alsufiev, vice president of USC and director general of Northern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center Anatoly Tiukov, head of military technical cooperation department Igor Ponomariov, deputy chief of Rosoboronexport's Navy department Evgeny Odintsov.

Summarizing results of inspection, the parties signed a working protocol. Indian Navy's delegates were satisfied with the course of works on the ship's upgrade and agreed with Sevmash officials to postpone the start date of sea trials from Dec 2011 to May 2012 without delaying of the full trial program providing that the acceptance certificate would be signed in due time – on Dec 4, 2012.

According to the protocol, although the works are 4 months behind the schedule, Russian party obliged to do away with the lag till the beginning of sea trials, i.e. end of May, 2011. As of today, the ship is 85% ready. Sevmash will have to complete basic outfitting works, interior finishing, and mooring trials until March 2012. Electromagnetic field measurements are scheduled in Apr 2012, and upon their results it will be decided whether the ship needs degaussing. Till 2012 the shipyard will have to furnish messrooms, cookrooms, medical and living premises: cabins, crew quarters, shower rooms and latrines. Besides, the ship must be checked by Navigation Safety Inspection, and one of its obligatory conditions is that the trial crew should settle in the ship at least 90 days prior to the first sortie. Thus, settlement date of Russian crew to INS Vikramaditya must be mid-Feb 2012.

VADM Kumar drew attention to a number of other problems, such as training of Indian crew, transfer of service documentation, etc. Generally, the Indian party had noticed considerable progress. The next inspection is to arrive at Sevmash in Jan 2012 to check trials of main propulsion plant.

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