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Kochi, April 11

INDIA has become the sixth country that can build large size aircraft carriers with steel cutting ceremony of the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier being carried out at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) on Monday.

Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of Naval Staff, said this is the most prestigious project that the Indian Navy has taken up so far. Only five other nations the US, the UK, France, Italy and Russia have built such a large carrier in the past, he added.

The design and construction of the Rs 3,200-crore ship will mark the "coming of age" of the country's indigenous warship building capabilities, as this will be the largest as well as the most complex warship to be ever built in India, he said.

The indigenous aircraft carrier construction programme is a critical component of this blue water force to provide sea control and power projection capabilities to the Indian Navy, the Navy Chief added.

"As we cut steel for this ship today, we join an elite club of just six other nations which are able to conceptualise and then realise an endeavour of such dimensions and complexity", he said.

The aircraft carrier is expected to enter service in 2012 and will have a life span of 50 years. The Union Shipping Minister, Mr T.R. Baalu, who carried out the steel cutting, said the current aircraft carrier order for CSL could propel the yard to the world's top position in ship building. The construction of the vessel is going to occupy the prime infrastructure of the yard for some years in the future and also cater to the rising demand of merchant shipbuilding.

The Shipping Ministry wanted to bring the maritime sector, including shipbuilding, on to the centre stage of development and the air defence system project is an example in this direction, the Minister said.

There will be a monitoring mechanism under the Shipping Ministry to monitor the progress of the work, he added.

The new carrier will have a length of 252 metres, breadth of 58 metres, draft of 8.4 metres and a depth of 25.6 metres. It will be propelled by four LM 2,500 gas turbines generating a total power of 88 MW thereby enabling the ship to do a maximum speed of 28 knots.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 12, 2005)
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