Prime Minister Narendra Modi today commissioned INS Vikrant, India’s first home-built aircraft carrier, in a grand ceremony at Cochin Shipyard. The 45,000-tonne warship has been built at a cost of ₹ 20,000 crore.
262 metres long and 62 metres wide, INS Vikrant is the largest warship to be built in India. It can have 30 aircraft on board, including MiG-29K fighter jets and helicopters. The warship can accommodate a crew of nearly 1,600.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said INS Vikrant is the reflection of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission. “Today, India has entered the list of countries that can build such large warships indigenously. Vikrant has infused new confidence,” he added.
On the occasion, the Prime Minister also unveiled the new naval ensign. The new ensign has the national flag on the upper canton. A blue octagonal shape with the national emblem sits atop an anchor, superimposed on a shield with the navy’s motto.
“The octagonal shape with twin golden borders draws inspiration from the seal of the great Indian emperor, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, whose visionary maritime outlook established a credible naval fleet,” the navy said in a video showcasing the new ensign.
During his address, the Prime Minister said that in adopting the new naval ensign, India has removed a burden of slavery off its chest.
INS Vikrant, in the beginning, will have MiG fighters and some choppers. The Navy is in the process of procuring 26 deck-based aircraft, having narrowed down to some Boeing and Dassault aircraft.
The warship was in the works for over a decade. Multiple phases of sea trials of INS Vikrant have been completed since August 21 last year. Aviation trials will be held after the navy has its command.
At present, India has only one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which is built on a Russian platform. Defence forces have been seeking three carriers in all – one in spare besides one each for the two main naval fronts, in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.
INS Vikrant is named after its predecessor, which played a key role during the 1971 war against Pakistan for the liberation of Bangladesh.
Indian Navy sees the new warship as a key addition to its arsenal. India can now deploy an aircraft carrier on both its eastern and western seaboards and expand its maritime presence.