became an aircraft carrier nation with the commissioning of INS Vikrant.
It was brought to Bombay on November 3, 1961 and later formed part of the
Indian Fleet as a fully operational carrier. It was a light fleet carrier.
Vikrant was one of the six ships of the Majestic class carrier
which were laid down in various British yards in 1943. A group of about
150 officers and senior technical sailors were flown to the UK in batches
in April/May 1957 for supervising the refit of Vikrant at Harland
and Wolf Shipyard at Belfast. Towards the end of 1960, the official
commissioning date of the ship was fixed as March 4, 1961. Reconstruction
and moderanisation of Vikrant took about four years.
On February 16, 1961 the
commissioning warrant was read by Capt P S Mahindroo, the Commanding
Officer designate of Vikrant at a gathering of Indian officers and
sailors and officials of Harland and Wolf. The first active operation in
which Vikrant took part was for the liberation of Goa in December
1961. The first warlike operation of Vikrant was the Indo-Pak war
of 1965. Unfortunately when the war started Vikrant was in the dry
dock undergoing her periodical refit.
real opportunity to show her prowess came in 1971 war. There is no doubt
that many of the strikes by Vikrantís aircraft not only hit many
vital targets on shore, damaged and sank many ships and crafts, it
instilled fear in the enemy. Vikrant and her aircraft made sure
that no supply could reach the enemy by sea. The escape route of Pakistani
land forces from East Pakistan by sea was completely cut off. These
factors undoubtedly helped substantially to hasten the surrender of
Pakistani troops. After de-commissioning from the service last year, INS Vikrant
is to be transformed into a maritime museum. The museum project is to
take about three years to complete.
After Vikrant, the second
aircraft carrier INS Viraat was commissioned in the Indian Navy on
May 12, 1987 with great hopes. The ship is all set to meet future
challenges in the Indian Ocean zone with her operational prowess matching
her name. Viraat is fitted with a Ďski jumpí enabling the Sea
Harrier VSTOL jump jets to take off from the flight deck with greater
payload. The carrier would also have Sea King helicopters embarked
for providing anti-submarine cover. The standard displacement of INS Viraat
is 28, 500 tons and she is propelled by steam turbines with 76,000
Mana Mohan Padhy