Tuesday, 18 September 2012

“Gorshkov curse” continues; Russian aircraft carrier fails trials




Navy technicians had earlier raised questions over Gorshkov's high pressure boilers. Those anxieties have now been validated


By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 18th Sept 12

The Indian Navy’s plan to always have two functional aircraft carriers has just received a second body blow. Already hit by a two-year delay in the indigenous aircraft carrier being built by Cochin Shipyard, now the Russian media has reported that the INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov) has spectacularly failed its ongoing user trials in the Barents Sea.

According to the widely read Russian language daily, Kommersant, seven of the Vikramaditya’s eight boilers broke down, with their firebrick insulation failing due to the high temperatures generated. The press reports stated that the ship would have to be cut open to replace the boilers, a lengthy exercise that can start only next spring.

Consequently the Vikramaditya, which was to originally be delivered to India in 2008, will come only in October 2013 “at the earliest”, says Izvestia daily.

Earlier, Russia had raised the cost of the Vikramaditya three-fold. Along with that, the latest delay makes the aircraft carrier a totem of Russian unreliability as a weapons supplier. From the originally contracted $947 million in the 2004 contract with India, Russia has raised the price to $2.3 billion. Now Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation will decide whether the latest debacle will lead to another price hike.

The Indian Navy faces major delays also with the INS Vikrant, which was to enter service in 2015, but which Cochin Shipyard will now deliver only in 2017. Former navy chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma, a press conference in New Delhi on Aug 7th , ascribed the delay to problems with the vessel’s engines and gears, and to an accident in which trucks that were transporting the ships generators from Pune to Kochi overturned en route, damaging the equipment.

The official establishment is remaining silent in the face of this embarrassment. The Russian Embassy in New Delhi told Business Standard said that they had no information beyond what was in the newspapers.

The Indian Navy PRO stated that there was no information yet from the Russian government about the nature and extent of the problem.

However, first reports might have exaggerated the failure on the Vikramditya. Driblets of information are coming in now from some 500 Indian sailors that are on the Gorshkov, observing the trials being conducted by the Russian Navy and by technicians from Sevmash, the shipyard that built the Gorshkov. This information suggests that the Vikramaditya is still moving under its own power, and that the problem with the boilers exists only at high power.

Sources in naval headquarters in New Delhi say that the Vikramaditya is continuing with its aviation trials, in which MiG-29K fighters are still flying from the carrier, testing aviation related systems.

High placed navy sources say they are unsurprised by the failure of the Vikramditya’s boilers. Russia put up the Gorshkov for sale in 1994 after a boiler room explosion incapacitated the vessel. Finding no buyers, Russia offered to give it “free” to the Indian Navy, provided New Delhi paid for its renovation and also bought 16 MiG-29 fighters for $1 billion.

Reporting on the deal in 2004, NDTV, an Indian television news channel, called it “the most expensive freebie in history.”

Navy technicians say that, while evaluating the Gorshkov, they expressed their reservations over its unusual boilers, which generate much higher pressures than conventional warship boilers. Those reservations were dropped after assurances from the Russians.

This ripples from this incident will be felt during next month’s visit of Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to New Delhi. In April, while inducting the Russian-built nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, into the Indian Navy, Defence Minister AK Antony had taken a crack at Russian ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, who was also present.

“I will remind the Honourable Russian ambassador about his promise to deliver the INS Vikramaditya this year,” said Antony. The navy’s wait seems likely to continue.

13 comments:

Abid said...

China made a tiger out of scraps-- got Varyag as scrap, and engineered it to a battle fit ship.
We poured our taxpayer's money any is getting a shabby laughing stock.
Practically, operating Vikramaditya will drain out navy & shipyards with huge operational costs, which could have been better utilized for operating large fleet of surface combatants, LSD etc.
Why in first place we went for vintage technology of using STEAM TURBINES which needed boilers; in this modern shipbuilding era, couldn't we have equipped it with Gas Turbines?? We now have a big list of failed / junk, unusable military wares-- LCA, Arjun, Namika, ATV-Arihant, Vikramaditya....the list goes on.

Dimitri Ivanov said...

Ajai , Please put facts correctly

Itar-Tass mentioned only 3 boilers have stopped working due to overheating and new insulator breaking up.

The ships continues with trials and will reach port by September 25 and expert from Sevmash will examine and then we know the real facts.

I am aware that you dont like Russian products but atleast put the facts correctly.

pankaj said...

india will prepare for with A/C CArrer because of only russia when china sent his A.C CARRER in indian ocean or karichi port for power projection and prepration 2-3 carrer, russia our frind but its supply material delay aginst other country just like USA c-130 j arrive right time in india and show its power in earth quick in sikkim,italy supply tanker ship who deliver 3-4 month ago ,p-8 process is very fast so russia think about potantial market where frindship r not compelsory and india rethink about foture purchase when india joint venture with french or british about A/C CARRER BUILDING i think its deliver 8 month ago

Anonymous said...

@ Dimitri

How is anyone to know which one is telling lies: Itar-Tass... Kommersant... or Izvestia. All three are saying different things.

You clearly don't know how to read English. Ajai's article quotes Kommersant and Izvestia, and then goes on to say that the India sailors on the Vikramaditya are saying that the damage is less than what the Russian media is reporting.

As far as I can see, this is the only article on the internet that makes the problem seem less than what the Russian media is reporting.

So don't be paranoid about Ajai's reporting... and get the Vikramaditya fixed. Russia is already five years late on delivery... and has charged three times the original price. The Americans would never, ever have done such a hatchet job.

I can't see how Russia calls India a friend. You seem to think we're just a well-located ATM

Rahul said...

This is scam from the very begining. Complete waste of Tax Payers money. The Admirals, Ministers and Bureaucrats since 2004 need to be investigated. One Admiral even went to NZ as High Commissioner. Wait for the CAG report.

Broadsword said...

@ Anonymous 12:23

Your points are valid, but you are wasting your time trying to explain it to "Dimitry", whoever that is!

When faced with a problem as serious as the Gorshkov, they won't try and deal with the facts... instead, they will pretend that nothing is wrong, and that the only problem is a journalist who is "anti-Russian".

debadutta said...

we should look for kitty hawk or queen Elizabeth instead of gorshkov..we should not compromise our security..

Mr. RA said...

This type of uncanny technical error can not generally occur till someone involved is either a Big Fool or a Chino agent.

Anonymous said...

Shukla Ji, some how i do not believe that the problems that have been facing the conversion and final testing phase of admiral ghorshkov were not foreseen. Our naval guys are not that dumb, yeah but they did pretend as if they are dumb and made govt of India sign the contract. what action can Govt of India take on these natasha addicted Admirals??

Dimitri Ivanov said...

Anon and Broadsword

Check out TASS for official statement from Sevmash , its 3 boilers and not 6.

Check tass news

http://www.itar-tass.com/c9/522694.html

The trials continued and major part of trials are over.

The insulator gave up on new boilers and expert will examine it and fix that up.

No one can predict what will happen in a trial out of the 100 odd parameter some might exceed some might fail and then you need to fix what failed and go on thats why its called trials.

So what happened was unfortunate but certainly no one wanted that to happen and no one could predict it since such a trials takes the ship and its components to its extreme there are built in delays in such complex trials.

We would be happy to keep the ship for Russian Navy and pay the money back we need such ships and India can put that money in its own IAC or buy it from West ....unfortunately the idiot Putin favours India more due to geopolitical reason.

What a tragedy this putin is for us.

P.K.Chaudhuri said...

This is pure scam.
2G and Coal Gates are recent scams, whereas scams in Defence procurement is continuing for decades.
Most unfortunately, due to the corrupt officers and buraucrats, the indigenous manufacturing is being discouraged and sabotaged. Defense manufacturing can bring about tremendous growth in India's economy. Due to large scale imports security of the nation is also compromised.
But who bothers as long as the money flows from the agents of MNCs to private bank accounts.

ashok said...

NOW IS THE TIME TO BRING THE CARRIER
HOME AND GET AMERICAN HELP TO INSTALL
HIGH ENERGY HIGH EFFECEINCY BABCOCK AND WILCOX BOILERS WITH THEIR SUPERIOR ENERGY INDEX QUOTIENT AND TRIED AND PROVEN ON US NAVY CARRIERS AND SHIPS . THE YANKS WITH THEIR EFFECEINT SHIPYARD SKILLS WILL DO A
EFFECTIVE WONDERFUL JOB AND IN RETURN PROVIDE LATEST DIGITAL CONTROLS . PRICE OFCOURSE WILL BE IN DOLLARS BUT STUPID INDIAN DIPLOMATS MUST ADVICE THE LUNGI CLAD SHIVERS TO SIGN A FRIENDSHIP TREATY AND ASK FOR FRIENDSHIP PRICES . AMERICANS FACTORIES NEED THE ORDERS AND JOBS.

Anonymous said...

What does broadsword have to say about this :

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/ins-vikramaditya-trials-termed-successful/article3958345.ece