Russia’s delivery of an aircraft carrier to the Indian Navy has suffered a new delay after the vessel encountered severe engine problems during a sea trial. Seven out of eight steam boilers in the propulsion machinery on the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier were out of order on Monday as it tried to gain maximum speed in the Barents Sea, RIA Novosti news agency reported. An official, who prepared the Vikramaditya for sea trials, said the reason for the boilers’ failure was that India refused to use asbestos to protect the boilers from heat, fearing that the material was dangerous for the crew. He said the boilers’ designer had to use firebrick, which proved not sufficiently heatproof. The refit will reportedly take between six and nine months. The Vikramaditya will now return to the Sevmash docks in the Arctic Sea port city of Arkhangelsk. Sevmash shipyard is the main contractor for the project, which seeks to overhaul and upgrade the Soviet-era warship into a modern aircraft carrier for India.
India and Russia signed a $947-million-dollar deal in 2005 for the purchase of the Vikramaditya carrier.The delivery has however been delayed twice, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the vessel to $2.3 billion. Once operational, the Vikramaditya will be able to transport up to 18 Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets and 10 Kamov Ka-28 naval helicopters. MP/JR