Moscow, May 24 - Running months behind delivery schedule, sea trials of the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier have been put off by Russian authorities, which may trigger further slippages in its handing over to the Indian Navy.
The carrier is currently being overhauled at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia. "The start of the sea trials has been moved to the beginning of June from May 25," Ria Novosti reported quoting a shipyard spokesman.
The vessel was originally scheduled to sail for trials in the White Sea and the Barents Sea on May 25. The officials said that the trial may have been put off due to poor weather forecast.
India and Russia signed a multi-billion dollar deal in 2005 for the purchase of the Soviet-built Admiral Gorshkov carrier, but delivery has already been delayed twice, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the carrier from USD 947 million to USD 2.3 billion.
The delivery of the Admiral Gorshkov to the Indian navy is expected in December 2012.
The warship is a modified Kiev-class carrier, originally named Baku. The ship was laid down in 1978 at the Nikolayev South shipyard in Ukraine, launched in 1982, and commissioned with the Soviet Navy in 1987.
It was renamed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1994, following a boiler room explosion, the Admiral Gorshkov sat in dock for a year for repairs. In 1995, it briefly returned to service and in 1996 was finally withdrawn and put up for sale.
The ship has a displacement capacity of 45,000 tons. It has a maximum speed of 32 knots and an endurance of 13,500 nautical miles (25,000 km) at a cruising speed of 18 knots. PTI