‘INS Vikramaditya is operationally deployed’
India’s largest warship – aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, is ‘operationally deployed, along with its fleet of MiG 29K combat aircraft, Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan said in Kochi on Wednesday.
Informed sources in the Navy say that the spanking new aircraft carrier is getting integrated with its fleet of three destroyers and four frigates, and is in the blue waters of the Arabian Sea.
The admiral, while on his first visit to the Southern Naval Command headquartered in Kochi, declared the operational status of Vikramaditya, while addressing the navy personnel of the Command and after reviewing a ceremonial parade. Vice-admiral Satish Soni, the fleet commander-in-chief of the Command was also present.
Significantly, Dhowan chose Southern Naval Command to be his first stop when Soni had now been set to retire without becoming a CNS, which he would have been, if retired admiral, DK Joshi would have completed his term.
INS Viraat is also plying on the waters of the Arabian Sea at the moment, which indicates that this will not be a permanent station for Vikramaditya as the navy had earlier expressed the intent of having one carrier battle groups (CBGs) in each seaboard.
Retired vice-admiral, Pradeep Kaushiva, director of the navy’s own think-tank, National Maritime Foundation, says that the fleet integration is an important activity, which would constitute the battle group eventually. Importantly, he mentioned that submarines are usually also a part of a carrier battle group. But clearly, with the navy’s submarine arm being in such dire straits, a senior navy official stated that there are no submarines in the fleet of Vikramaditya.
Kaushiva, pointing out that the navy had an experience of sailing with aircraft carrier for 50 years now, clarified an important terminological difference. He said that the battle group of a carrier is called flotilla when it is within the territorial waters of the country. When it sails in the blue waters, the battle group transforms itself into a fleet.
Captain Suraj Berry has been chosen as the first commander of the Vikramaditya. He is the one who is tasked to accomplish the fleet integration of the aircraft carrier.