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Indian aircraft carrier to be named INS Vikrant

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Artist's concept of India's aircraft carrier. DPR photo

NEW DELHI (BNS): India’s indigenous aircraft carrier may be christened INS Vikrant –after the legendary aircraft which was successfully operated by the Navy in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Reports suggest that it is a tradition in the Navy to name new warships of the same type on decommissioned warships. “The idea is no warship ever dies. The new warship continues the legacy and is always referred as a continuation of the decommissioned warship. In accordance with tradition, the IAC, in all likelihood, will be named INS Vikrant,” PTI quoted undisclosed naval officers.

However officials also said that it was early in the day to speculate on the name, as the building of the warship had just begun. The keel laying ceremony of the country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) took place in Kochi, on Saturday,

Talking about the procedures of naming a warship, the officer said that first a list of names is suggested and then the President of India, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, takes a decision and approves the name. In this case, the decision is likely to come just before its commissioning in 2014, the officer said.

The navy officers were of the view that if the government decided to name the IAC as INS Vikrant, it would carry forward the memories of the exploits of India's first ever aircraft carrier, which brought the country laurels during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

INS Vikrant was a Majestic class aircraft carrier and was serving the Royal Navy as HMS Hercules when India bought it in 1957 and commissioned it in 1961. He said that during the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh, Pakistan had actually claimed that it had already sunk the 20,000-tonne INS Vikrant, but the aircraft carrier was at that time in dry dock for a refit.

“Despite a crack in its boiler, the steam-turbine powered Vikrant had launched an air strike at Chittagong harbour on December 4 using its eight Sea Hawk fighters, which forced Pakistan to abandon all plans of using its naval force on the eastern seaboard,” the Navy officer said proudly.

He said that the aircraft carrier was decommissioned in 1997 and converted into a museum in 1998. Stationed at Mumbai, INS Vikrant is open only for about 10 days in a year in December coinciding with Navy Week celebrations.

Another important thing is that for the first time IAC has been designed in such a way to accommodate women. This provision has been made incase the government granted women to sail aboard warships.

Giving figures, the Navy officer said that presently there are about 250 women officers in the Navy and of these less than five women officers may go on to sail on a warship. Currently, the Navy does not permit women officers to sail onboard warships and there are no separate facilities for women.

Until some time ago women officers, including medical officers, were posted on warships of various types such as Destroyers and Frigates. Globally, women officers and sailors sail aboard warships.

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