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Friday, September 9, 2022

The Phoenix Rises- Commissioning of INS Vikrant

  

 

INS  Vikrant

Just over a year ago, the reports of Sea Trials of the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant appeared in the newspapers. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia due to my past association with the earlier aircraft carrier with the same name almost thirty years back. I even wrote a blog post-http://www.rahulsblogandcollections.com/2021/08/ins-vikrant-reincarnated.html recounting my association with the ship which was like a second home to me for almost five years that I had served on her. Little did I realize that I would be fortunate amongst a handful of those who would attend the new ship's commissioning on 2 Sep 22.  The thrill of seeing the new ship was akin to a kid being promised a surprise gift. I saw the names of several colleagues and seniors with whom I had rubbed shoulders, and who would be participating in the event.

A Plaque of some brave men who laid down their lives- At the Maritime Museum

The impeccable arrangements by the Navy for the event deserve all the praise. On a preceding day, a visit to the new Maritime Museum which has been created at Fort Kochi was organized. It dwells on the history of how the Navy evolved over the centuries. Some rare collections of models of the ships, actual weapons, beautiful replicas of the seafarers and battle honours are on display. It is a treasure trove for those desiring to know more about maritime history.

The huge hangar side of the ship

Later in the evening, an Icebreaker event of a get-together of the veterans was a perfect occasion to catch up with those with whom I had spent time onboard as well as other locations. In some cases, the faces were recognizable while in others the names were familiar. Regardless, the love and warmth were rekindled despite the flow of time. The flood of memories and recollections of the times made the time fly. When the earlier INS Vikrant was laid to rest in 1997, the captain of the ship had mentioned in his last dispatch to the men that the Phoenix will rise again, and sure enough, it had. The ladies added colour to the event. It was reassuring to see the determined young men and women in the uniform to whom the mantle had been handed down who would be steering the new ship from the next day post-commissioning. On the way back after the party, the silhouette of the massive new INS Vikrant berthed at the Cochin Shipyard came into the view amidst twinkling lights. It looked formidable and majestic.

The ship's crest on the flight deck

At the crack of dawn, the next day, all the invitees for the event had assembled under the tricolour shamiana where the Prime Minister would dedicate the ship in a few hours to the nation. The shipyard had been transformed into an impregnable fortress by the security men. The dignitaries present for the event included the press, school children, veterans, police, paramilitary, the armed forces, bureaucrats, diplomats, the state government, and central government ministers. The pride of joining the ranks of the developed nations who have the capability to make an indigenous aircraft carrier was visible on every face. After, the impressive commissioning and an inspiring speech by the Prime Minister, there were ceremonies on the flight deck of the ship. The new Naval Ensign and the Tricolor were hoisted. A fly-past by different squadrons of helicopters and jets thundered past leaving the audience in awe.

The Prime Minister dedicated the ship to the nation

Most of the information related to the huge ship built indigenously are indicators of the advances made in cutting-edge technologies which a handful of advanced nations possess. A feeling of immense pride swept me off my feet as I explored the lower decks, the mammoth hangar, a massive flight deck with an array of weapons, aircraft and navigational aids.  The name Vikrant means "courageous" and the motto of the ship is "Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah", which is taken from Rigveda and can be translated as "I defeat those who fight against me". The visit will go down memory lane as one of the finest moments of my association with the navy\

6 comments:

  1. Cmde Suresh Ambekar, VSMSeptember 9, 2022 at 10:25 AM

    Wonderful narration. I was lucky enough to be onboard during 1971 war when we sailed into Meghna river to bombard Cox’s Bazaar. Our blockade of the then East Pakistan was effective despite 7th fleet’s threatening present. It had to run away when they sensed the presence of Russian subs.

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    1. A sincere thanks for your kind comment Sir! I am honoured to see the comment of a veteran who participated in the war where the enemy surrenderd, a feat not accomplished for very long!

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  2. Well done Rahul. Good account of the Commissioning. I was there but missed my contemporaries except Gigi and Mike. I was there on board the MOTHER during 71 ops courtesy a very understanding CNS for he allowed me to join the 300 Squadron on board from a desk at NHQ. Yes, it was Coxbazar, up and down Chalna and Khulna seen through my Gun Sight as I took on targets on the ground..............R Adm PD Sharma ..AWI Master Green IRE and finally CO 300 Sqn

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    1. I am blessed to get a comment from a war veteran who has such an exciting record of war heroism. Thank you Sir,for recounting your moments of pride and having lead the frontline squadron from INS Vikrant during Bangladesh operation in 1971

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    1. Welcome to my blog Pooja! The ship is indeed majestic and awe inspiring,

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