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INS Vikrant (R11)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

INS Vikrant (for courageous) was a Majestic-class aircraft

carrier of the Indian Navy. The ship was laid down as HMS
Hercules for the British Royal Navy during World War II,
but construction was put on hold when the war ended. India
purchased the incomplete carrier in 1957, and construction
was completed in 1961. Vikrant was commissioned as the
first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy and played a key role
in enforcing the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the
Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.

In the later years, the ship underwent major refits to embark INS Vikrant in 1984
modern aircraft, before being decommissioned in January
1997. She was preserved as a museum ship in Cuffe Parade,
Mumbai, until 2012. In January 2014, the ship was sold United Kingdom
through an online auction and scrapped in November 2014
after final clearance from the Supreme Court. The Indian Name: Hercules
Navy is currently constructing its first home-built carrier, Builder: Vickers-Armstrong
also named INS Vikrant, with the new carrier scheduled to Harland and Wolff
be commissioned by the end of 2018.
Laid down: 14 October 1943
Launched: 22 September 1945

Contents Commissioned: Never commissioned

Identification: Pennant number: R49
1 History and construction Fate: Laid up, 1947; Sold to India,
2 Design and description
3 Service
3.1 Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 India
3.2 Later years
3.3 Squadrons embarked Name: Vikrant
4 Museum ship Acquired: 1957
5 Scrapping
6 Legacy Commissioned: 4 March 1961
7 In popular culture Decommissioned: 31 January 1997
8 Footnotes
9 Citations Homeport: Bombay
10 References Identification: Pennant number: R11
11 External links
Motto: Sanskrit: Jayema Sam
Yudhi Sprdhah
English: I completely
History and construction defeat those who dare to
fight with me
During the early years of World War II, the Royal Navy built
a fleet of light aircraft carriers in an effort to counter the Fate: Scrapped, 2014
German and Japanese navies.[1] The 1942 Design Light General characteristics
Fleet Carrier, commonly referred to as the British Light
Fleet Carrier, was the result. Serving with eight navies Class and type: Majestic-class light carrier
between 1944 and 2001, these ships were designed and Displacement: 16,000 t (16,000 long
constructed by civilian shipyards as an intermediate step tons) (standard)
between the full-sized fleet aircraft carriers and the less 19,500 t (19,200 long
expensive but limited-capability escort carriers.[2] tons) (deep load)
Sixteen light fleet carriers were ordered, and all were laid Length: 700 ft (210 m) (o/a)
down as what became the Colossus class in 1942 and 1943. Beam: 128 ft (39 m)
The final six ships were modified during construction to
handle larger and faster aircraft, and were re-designated the Draught: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Majestic class.[3] The improvements from the Colossus class Installed power: 40,000 ihp (30,000 kW)
to the Majestic class included heavier displacement, 4 Admiralty three-drum
armament, catapult, aircraft lifts and aircraft capacity.[4] boilers
Construction on the ships was suspended at the end of World
Propulsion: 2 shafts; 2 Parsons geared steam
War II, as the ships were surplus to the Royal Navy's
peacetime requirements. Instead, the carriers were turbines
modernized and sold to several Commonwealth nations. The Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
ships were similar, but each varied depending on the Range: 12,000 nmi (22,000 km;
requirements of the country to which the ship was sold.[5]
14,000 mi) at 14 knots
HMS Hercules, the fifth ship in the Majestic class, was (26 km/h; 16 mph)
ordered on 7 August 1942 and laid down on 14 October 6,200 nmi (11,500 km;
1943 by Vickers-Armstrong on the River Tyne. After World 7,100 mi) at 23 knots
War II ended on 2 September 1945, she was launched on 22 (43 km/h; 26 mph)
September 1945, and her construction was suspended in
Complement: 1,110
May 1946.[1] At the time of suspension, she was 75 per cent
complete.[6] Her hull was preserved and, in May 1947, she Sensors and 1 LW-05 air-search
was laid up in Gareloch off the Clyde. In January 1957, she processing radar
was purchased by India and was towed to Belfast to systems: 1 ZW-06 surface-search
complete her construction and modifications by Harland and radar
Wolff. Several improvements to the original design were 1 LW-10 tactical radar
ordered by the Indian Navy, including an angled deck, steam 1 Type 963 aircraft-
catapults, and a modified island.[7] landing radar
Armament: 16 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft
Design and description guns (later reduced to 8)
Aircraft carried: 2123
Vikrant displaced 16,000 tonnes (16,000 long tons) at
standard load and 19,500 t (19,200 long tons) at deep load. Aviation 1961:
She had an overall length of 700 ft (210 m), a beam of 128 ft facilities: Catapult Assisted Take-
(39 m) and a mean deep draught of 24 ft (7.3 m). She was Off
powered by a pair of Parsons geared steam turbines, each 1989:
driving two propeller shafts, using steam provided by four 9.75 degree ski jump
Admiralty three-drum boilers. The turbines developed a total
of 40,000 indicated horsepower (30,000 kW) which gave a
maximum speed of 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph). Vikrant carried about 3,175 t (3,125 long tons) of fuel oil that
gave her a range of 12,000 nmi (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph), and 6,200 mi
(10,000 km) at 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). The air and ship crew included 1,110 officers.[6]

The ship was armed with sixteen 40-millimetre (1.6 in) Bofors anti-aircraft guns, but these were later reduced
to eight. At various times, its aircraft consisted of Hawker Sea Hawk and Sea Harrier (STOVL) jet fighters, Sea
King Mk 42B and HAL Chetak helicopters, and Breguet Aliz Br.1050 anti-submarine aircraft.[8] The carrier
fielded between 21 and 23 aircraft of all types.[9] Vikrant's flight decks were designed to handle aircraft up to
24,000 pounds (11,000 kg), but 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) remained the heaviest landing weight of an aircraft. Larger
54 by 34 feet (16.5 by 10.4 m) lifts were installed.[7]

The ship was equipped with one LW-05 air-search radar, one ZW-06 surface-search radar, one LW-10 tactical
radar and one Type 963 aircraft landing radar with other communication systems.[10]

The Indian navy's first aircraft carrier was commissioned as INS Vikrant on 4 March 1961 in Belfast by
Vijayalakshmi Pandit, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom .[7][11] The name Vikrant was
derived from the Sanskrit word vikrnta meaning "stepping beyond", "courageous" or "bold". Captain Pritam
Singh was the first commanding officer of the ship, which carried British Hawker Sea Hawk fighter-bombers
and French Aliz anti-submarine aircraft. On 18 May 1961, the first jet landed on her deck. It was piloted by
Lieutenant Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani, who later served as admiral and Chief of the Naval Staff of India
from 1984 to 1987. Vikrant formally joined the Indian Navy's fleet in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) on 3
November 1961, when she was received at Ballard Pier by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.[6]

In December of that year, the ship was deployed for Operation Vijay (the code name for the annexation of
Portuguese India) off the coast of Goa with two destroyers, INS Rajput and INS Kirpan.[7] Vikrant did not see
action, and patrolled along the coast to deter foreign interference.[12] During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965,
Vikrant was in dry dock refitting, and did not see any action.[7]

In June 1970, Vikrant was docked at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, due to many internal fatigue cracks and
fissures in the water drums of her boilers that could not be repaired by welding. As replacement drums were not
available locally, four new ones were ordered from Britain and Naval Headquarters issued orders not to use the
boilers until further notice.[13] On 26 February 1971 the ship was moved from Ballard Pier Extension to the
anchorage, without replacement drums. The main objective behind this move was to light up the boilers at
reduced pressure, and work up the main and flight deck machinery that had been idle for almost seven months.
On 1 March, the boilers were ignited, and basin trials up to 40 revolutions per minute (RPM) were conducted.
Catapult trials were conducted on the same day.[14]

The ship began preliminary sea trials on 18 March and returned two days later. Trials were again conducted on
2627 April. The navy decided to limit the boilers to a pressure of 400 pounds per square inch (2,800 kPa) and
the propeller revolutions to 120 RPM at the bow and 80 RPM astern, reducing the ship's speed to 14 knots
(26 km/h; 16 mph). With the growing expectations of a war with Pakistan in the near future, the navy started to
transfer its ships to strategically advantageous locations in Indian waters. The primary concern of Naval
Headquarters about the operation was the serviceability of Vikrant.[14] When asked his opinion regarding the
involvement of Vikrant in the war, Fleet Operations Officer Captain Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani told the Chief
of the Naval Staff Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda:

...during the 1965 war Vikrant was sitting in Bombay Harbour and did not go out to sea. If the
same thing happened in 1971, Vikrant would be called a white elephant and naval aviation would
be written off. Vikrant had to be seen being operational even if we didn't fly any aircraft.

Captain Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani, [14]

Nanda and Hiranandani proved to be instrumental in taking Vikrant to war. There were objections that the ship
might have severe operational difficulties that would expose the carrier to increased danger on operations. In
addition, the three Daphne-class submarines acquired by the Pakistan Navy posed a significant risk to the
carrier.[14] In June, extensive deep sea trials were carried out, with steel safety harnesses around the three
boilers still operational.[a] Observation windows were fitted as a precautionary measure, to detect any steam
leaks. By the end of June, the trials were complete and Vikrant was cleared to participate on operations, with its
speed restricted to 14 knots.[15]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

As a part of preparations for the war, Vikrant was assigned to the Eastern Naval Command, then to the Eastern
Fleet. This fleet consisted of INS Vikrant, the two Brahmaputra-class frigates INS Brahmaputra and INS Beas,
the two Petya III-class corvettes INS Kamorta and INS Kavaratti, and one submarine, INS Khanderi. The main
reason behind strengthening the Eastern Fleet was to counter the Pakistani maritime forces deployed in support
of military operations in East Bengal.[15] A surveillance area of 18,000 square miles (47,000 km2), confined by
a triangle with a base of 270 mi (430 km) and sides of 165 mi (266 km) and 225 mi (362 km), was set up in the
Bay of Bengal. Any ship in this area was to be challenged and checked.
If found to be neutral, it would be escorted to the nearest Indian port,
otherwise, it would be captured, and taken as a war prize.[16]

In the meantime, intelligence reports confirmed that Pakistan was to

deploy a US-built Tench-class submarine, PNS Ghazi. Ghazi was
considered as a serious threat to Vikrant by the Indian Navy, as
Vikrant's approximate position would be known by the Pakistanis once
she started operating aircraft. Of the four available surface ships, INS Vikrant's Sea Hawk squadron ashore
Kavaratti had no sonar, which meant that the other three had to remain during the December 1971 Indo-Pakistan
in close vicinity 510 mi (8.016.1 km) of Vikrant, without which the war
carrier would be completely vulnerable to attack by Ghazi.[16]

On 23 July, Vikrant sailed off to Cochin in company with the Western Fleet. En route, before reaching Cochin
on 26 July, Sea King landing trials were carried out. After the completion of the radar and communication trials
on 28 July, she departed for Madras, escorted by Brahmaputra and Beas. The next major problem was
operating aircraft from the carrier. The commanding officer of the ship, Captain (later Vice Admiral) S.
Prakash, was seriously concerned about flight operations. He was concerned that aircrew morale would be
adversely affected if flight operations were not undertaken, which could be disastrous. Naval Headquarters
remained stubborn on the speed restrictions, and sought confirmation from Prakash whether it was possible to
embark an Aliz without compromising the speed restrictions.[17] The speed restrictions imposed by the
headquarters meant that Aliz aircraft would have to land at close to stalling speed. Eventually the aircraft
weight was reduced, which allowed several of the aircraft to embark, along with a Seahawk squadron.[18]

By the end of September, Vikrant and her escorts reached Port Blair. En
route to Vishakhapatnam, tactical exercises were conducted in the
presence of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern
Naval Command. From Vishakhapatnam, Vikrant set out for Madras for
maintenance. Rear Admiral S. H. Sharma was appointed Flag Officer
Commanding Eastern Fleet and arrived at Vishakhapatnam on 14
October. After receiving the reports that Pakistan might launch
preemptive strikes, maintenance was stopped for another tactical
exercise, which was completed during the night of 2627 October at
An Aliz anti-submarine aircraft takes Vishakhapatnam. Vikrant then returned to Madras to resume
off from INS Vikrant maintenance. On 1 November, the Eastern Fleet was formally
constituted, and on 13 November, all the ships set out for the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands. To avoid misadventures, it was planned to sail
Vikrant to a remote anchorage, isolating it from combat. Simultaneously, deception signals would give the
impression that Vikrant was operating somewhere between Madras and Vishakhapatnam.[18]

On 23 November, an emergency was declared in Pakistan after a clash of Indian and Pakistani troops in East
Pakistan two days earlier.[18] On 2 December, the Eastern Fleet proceeded to its patrol area in anticipation of an
attack by Pakistan. The Pakistan Navy had deployed Ghazi on 14 November with the explicit goal of targeting
and sinking Vikrant, and Ghazi reached a location near Madras by the 23rd.[19][20] In an attempt to deceive the
Pakistani Navy and Ghazi, India's Naval Headquarters deployed Rajput as a decoythe ship sailed 160 mi
(260 km) off the coast of Vishakhapatnam and broadcast a significant amount of radio traffic, making her
appear to be Vikrant.[21]

Ghazi, meanwhile, sank off the Visakhapatnam coast under mysterious circumstances.[20] On the night of 34
December, a muffled underwater explosion was detected by a coastal battery. The next morning, a local
fisherman observed flotsam near the coast, causing Indian naval officials to suspect a vessel had sunk off the
coast. The next day, a clearance diving team was sent to search the area, and they confirmed that Ghazi had
sunk in shallow waters.[22]
The reason for Ghazi's fate is unclear. The Indian Navy's official historian, Hiranandani, suggests three
possibilities, after having analyzed the position of the rudder and extent of the damage suffered. The first was
that Ghazi had come up to periscope depth to identify her position and may have seen an anti-submarine vessel
that caused her to crash dive, which in turn may have led her to bury her bow in the bottom. The second
possibility is closely related to the first: on the night of the explosion, Rajput was on patrol off Visakhapatnam
and observed a severe disturbance in the water. Suspecting that it was a submarine, the ship dropped two depth
charges on the spot, on a position that was very close to the wreckage.[19] The third possibility is that there was
a mishap when Ghazi was laying mines on the day before hostilities broke out.[22]

Vikrant was redeployed towards Chittagong at the outbreak of hostilities. On 4 December 1971, the ship's Sea
Hawks struck shipping in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar harbours, sinking or incapacitating most of the ships
present. Later strikes targeted Khulna and the Port of Mongla, which continued until 10 December, while other
operations were flown to support a naval blockade of East Pakistan.[23] On 14 December, the Sea Hawks
attacked the cantonment area in Chittagong, destroying several Pakistani army barracks. Medium anti-aircraft
fire was encountered during this strike. Simultaneous attacks by Alizs continued on Cox's Bazar. After this,
Vikrant's fuel levels dropped to less than twenty-five percent, and the aircraft carrier sailed to Paradip for
refueling.[24] The crew of INS Vikrant earned two Mahavir Chakras and twelve Vir Chakra gallantry medals for
their part in the war.[20]

Later years

Vikrant did not see much service after the war, and was given two major
modernisation refitsthe first one from 1979 to 1981 and the second
one from 1987 to 1989.[25] In the first phase, her boilers, radars,
communication systems and anti-aircraft guns were modernised, and
facilities to operate Sea Harriers were installed.[26] In the second phase,
facilities to operate the new Sea Harrier Vertical/Short Take Off and
Land (V/STOL) fighter aircraft and the new Sea King Mk 42B Anti-
Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters were introduced. A 9.75-degree
ski-jump ramp was fitted.[25] The steam catapult was removed during A Sea King helicopter with INSVikrant
this phase. Again in 1991, Vikrant underwent a six-month refit,
followed by another fourteen-month refit in 199294. She remained
operational thereafter, flying Sea Harriers, Sea Kings and Chetaks until her final sea outing on 23 November
1994.[25] In the same year, a fire was also recorded aboard.[7] In January 1995, the navy decided to keep
Vikrant in "safe to float" state.[25] She was laid up and formally decommissioned on 31 January 1997.[27]

Squadrons embarked

During her service, INS Vikrant embarked four squadrons of the Naval Air Arm of the Indian Navy:
Squadron Name Insignia Aircraft Notes

Hawker Sea
Operated during the 1971 war, and phased out in 1978.[25]
INAS 300 Introduced in 1983, with the first Harrier landing on the ship's deck on 20
Tigers BAE Sea
December 1983, operated until the ship was decommissioned in late

Operated during the 1971 war, and phased out in 1987, with the last Aliz
INAS 310 Cobras Breguet Aliz
flown off on 2 April 1987.[25]

Alouette III/
The Alouettes/Chetaks were first embarked in 1960s, and operated until the
INAS 321 Angels HAL
ship was decommissioned in 1997.[29]

Introduced into the Indian Navy in 1974,[30] the Sea Kings operated on
Westland Sea
INAS 330 Harpoons Vikrant from 1991, and remained until the ship was decommissioned in

Museum ship
Following decommissioning in 1997, the ship was earmarked for
preservation as a museum ship in Mumbai. Lack of funding prevented
progress on the ship's conversion to a museum and it was speculated
that the ship would be made into a training ship.[31] In 2001, the ship
was opened to the public by the Indian Navy, but the Government of INS Vikrant preserved as a museum ship
Maharashtra was unable to find a partner to operate the museum on a in Mumbai with aircraft visible on the
permanent, long-term basis and the museum was closed after it was flight deck
deemed unsafe for the public in 2012.[32][33]

In August 2013, Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, chief of the Western
Naval Command, said the Ministry of Defence would scrap the ship as
she had become very difficult to maintain and no private bidders had
offered to fund the museum's operations.[34] On 3 December 2013, the
Indian government decided to auction the ship.[35] The Bombay High
Court dismissed a public-interest lawsuit filed by Kiran Paigankar to
stop the auction, stating the vessel's dilapidated condition did not
warrant her preservation, nor were the necessary funds or government
support available.[36][37] Vikrant being scapped at Bombay

In January 2014, the ship was sold through an online auction to a

Darukhana ship-breaker for 60 crore (US$9.4 million).[38][39][40] The
Supreme Court of India dismissed another lawsuit challenging the ship's sale and scrapping on 14 August
2014.[41] Vikrant remained beached off Darukhana in Mumbai Port while awaiting the final clearances of the
Mumbai Port Trust. On 12 November 2014, the Supreme Court gave its final approval for the carrier to be
scrapped, which commenced on 22 November 2014.[42]

In memory of Vikrant, the Vikrant Memorial was unveiled by Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema, Flag
Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command at K Subash Marg in the Naval Dockyard of
Mumbai on 25 January 2016. The memorial is made from metal recovered from the ship.[43] In February 2016,
Bajaj unveiled a new motorbike made with metal from Vikrant's scrap and named it Bajaj V in honour of

The navy has named its first home-built carrier INS Vikrant in honour
of INS Vikrant (R11). The new carrier is built by Cochin Shipyard
Limited, and will displace 40,000 t (44,000 short tons).[45] The keel
was laid down in February 2009 and she was launched in August 2013.
As of December 2016, the ship is being fitted out and is expected to be
commissioned by the end of 2018.[46]

INS Vikrant (new) being fitted out

In popular culture
The decommissioned ship featured prominently in the film ABCD 2 as a backdrop while it was moored near
Darukhana in Mumbai.[47]

a. The A1 boiler was completely blanked off due to serious problems.[13]
b. French Alouette III light helicopters were produced in India under license by Hindustan Aircraft Limited
(HAL) as "Chetaks".[29]

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uction-decommissioned-aircraft-carrier-ins-vikrant-1265381.html). First Post India. 4 December 2013.
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Chant, Christopher (2014), A Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware, Routledge, ISBN 978-
Hiranandani, Gulab Mohanlal (2000), Transition to Triumph: History of the Indian Navy, 19651975,
Lancer Publishers LLC, ISBN 978-1-897829-72-1
Hiranandani, Gulab Mohanlal (2009), Transition to Guardianship: The Indian Navy, 19912000, Lancer
Publishers LLC, ISBN 978-1-935501-66-4
Hobbs, David (2014), British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development & Service Histories, Seaforth
Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4738-5369-0
Konstam, Angus (2012), The Aviation History, Books on Demand, ISBN 978-3-8482-6639-5
Roy, Mihir K. (1995), War in the Indian Ocean, Lancer Publishers, ISBN 978-1-897829-11-0
Till, Geoffrey (2013), Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty-First Century, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-136-

External links
Mission Vikrant 1971: A search for our heroes
Sons of Vikrant by Bajaj

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