Monday, August 9, 2021

INS Vikrant – Reincarnated


The recent news about the ongoing sea trials of the indigenous aircraft carrier ‘INS Vikrant’ in Kochi filled me with pride.  A rush of memories occupied my mind and not without reason. I fondly recollect my first sight of the earlier INS Vikrant way back in 1978 where I was to join for my ‘sea acquaintance’ for six months. The mammoth ship was berthed on the jetty and awestruck I gazed at the huge structure. I stepped on board and saluted on the gangway as I boarded the ship with my luggage. I never realized that this would be the beginning of an association of spending five years at different spans of time onboard this ship.

One of the finest memories was to see the taking off of the Alize aircraft from the steam catapult and recovery of these aircraft at sea by a maze of arrestor wires spread on the flight deck.  It required a  calibrated approach by the Deck Landing Mirror Sight system and lowering of the hook from the aircraft to ensure arrest by the arrestor wire. I looked at every launch and recovery of aircraft with an awe of a school child. In years to come, this would be my full-time profession. As the technology advanced the ship underwent modernization and was retrofitted with a ski jump on the flight deck and more modern landing aids. I was s lucky to be a part of a team that witnessed the landing of the first Sea Harrier aircraft. It was unique and could hover on the flight deck like a helicopter before making a precise landing on a moving ship.

INS Vikrant being refuelled by INS Deepak

Every day I spent on the ship I learnt something new. The moving hulk weighed 20000 tons, had over 1500 men at operational times, a huge hangar for maintenance not to speak of massive engine rooms with steam turbines to turn the shaft. The ship was able to produce almost 2 MW of electric power with its array of diesel generators and turbogenerators enough for as small-sized city.

The ship was decommissioned in 1997 the year I took retirement from the service. Surprisingly, my entire sea time lasting over five years were spent on this ship, so it was like an umbilical cord separating us in 1997. There have been moments of anxiety, fear, thrill on the events that I was a witness to, besides watching the dolphins following the ship near Goa, countless dark nights with stars and moon, golden sunrise and sunsets and hours of fun on the quarterdeck watching endless movies and hours of fun in evenings.

The new INS Vikrant that has been built at the Kochi shipyard is almost twice the size of its predecessor having a displacement of 37500 ton and will operate the Russian built MIG 29K aircraft and Kamov 31 helicopters and indigenous aircraft/ helicopters too! It will also have specialized cabins for women officers too. The ship will be able to cruise 7500 nautical miles at a top speed of 28 knots. It will be equipped with the most advanced state of the art electronics, weapon systems and sensors. The ship will also have two runways besides a host of new features. A short video of the ongoing sea trials is attached to get a glimpse of this pride of the Indian Navy.

The Navy is more than a job, much more than a service to the country. According to Theodore Roosevelt

‘A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty to peace’.

PS: Images and video kind courtesy Google and YouTube and own collection


  1. It was like lessons reading your experience, and you provided great info on our warship. I quite agree with your last line - it's like learning self-defense isn't meant to beat anybody. Thank you

    1. Thanks a lot Jeevan, that you enjoyed reading about our country's pride- INS Vikrant