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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Navy chief meets Antony, explains warship glitches

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 10, 2014
First Published: 23:07 IST(10/2/2014) | Last Updated: 23:10 IST(10/2/2014)

Navy chief Admiral DK Joshi met defence minister AK Antony on Monday and reportedly explained the force’s view on the reported glitches faced by the INS Vikramaditya during its home-bound journey from Russia to the Karwar naval base.

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The meeting comes a day after HT reported that the $2.33 billion (Rs 13,980 crore) aircraft carrier faced embarrassing glitches during its 42-day long voyage, leaving the defence ministry worried. INS Vikramaditya, India largest and most-expensive warship, was bought second-hand from Russia and delivered five years behind schedule.

A defence ministry official said the navy chief informed Antony that the 44,500-tonne warship had no major issues during its journey from the Russian port of Sevmash to Karwar, and was seaworthy.

The aircraft carrier had reportedly suffered a boiler breakdown, compromising its ability to negotiate choppy seas. The tanker accompanying the warship had also failed in a refueling mission off the Portuguese coast, as reported by HT on Monday.

A navy official on Monday said it was not uncommon for a ship of that size to encounter some difficulties during a 14,800-km journey.

The defence ministry is also livid about reports that some crew members on board the ships that escorted INS Vikramaditya may have posed a security risk by uploading the warship’s pictures on social media. Location-based apps on the market could broadcast deployment patterns if crews upload photos on to Facebook, using smart phones.

This is only the latest controversy to hit INS Vikramaditya, which was plagued by multiple delays in delivery and spiralling costs. A CAG estimate criticised the government for spending 60% more on a second-hand warship than it would have on a brand-new one.

In recent months, the Navy’s safety record has been called into question with 10 accidents in the last six months. Antony had asked the navy last week to clean up its act, saying he wasn't satisfied with the force's functioning. "I cannot give the navy a 100% satisfaction certificate. Even one accident is a serious matter," Antony had said.


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