MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian-built aircraft carrier due to be delivered to the Indian Navy following a much-delayed refit has successfully passed engine tests during the first stage of final sea trials in the White Sea, shipbuilder Sevmash said Tuesday.
The current trials focused on the ship's propulsion system and its ability to perform as required.
The carrier, named Vikramaditya, “showed excellent performance while being tested at various speeds,” a Sevmash spokesman said. “On Sunday, the ship attained a maximum speed of 29.2 knots.”
The Vikramaditya, which is already years past its original 2008 delivery date, was supposed to have been handed over to India on December 4, 2012, but initial sea trials in September revealed that the ship's boilers were not fully functional.
The source of the problem, which reduced the ship's maximum speed, was due to use of low-grade Chinese-made firebricks in the boiler insulation instead of asbestos, Russian shipbuilders said.
The boiler problems were fixed by Russian shipbuilders in February, Sevmash reported previously.
The Vikramaditya will now sail to the Barents Sea, where the ship will undertake working-up procedures including aircraft deck operations. Several MiG-29K fighters and two helicopters will be used in the flight trials.
A report on the results of the final trials must be given to the Indians on October 15, the Sevmash official said.
The Vikramaditya was originally built as the Soviet Project 1143.4 class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. In its original incarnation, the Gorshkov also had a history of boiler problems and suffered a boiler explosion in 1994.
The refit of the ship has lurched from one crisis to another since India and Russia signed a $947 million deal in 2005 for its purchase and refit. Delivery has already been delayed three times, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the vessel to $2.3 billion, causing acrimony between Moscow and New Delhi.