INS Vikrant (R11)
INS Vikrant in 1984
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Name:||HMS Hercules (R49)|
|Builder:||Vickers-Armstrong/Harland and Wolff|
|Laid down:||12 November 1943|
|Launched:||22 September 1945|
|Renamed:||INS Vikrant (R11)|
|Fate:||Laid up in March 1946; Sold to India in 1957|
|Name:||INS Vikrant (R11)|
|Builder:||Vickers-Armstrong/Harland and Wolff|
|Commissioned:||4 March 1961|
|Decommissioned:||31 January 1997|
|Fate:||Preserved as a maritime museum in Mumbai
|Type:||Majestic-class light carrier|
|Displacement:||15,700 tons standard, 19,500 tons full load|
|Length:||192 m (630 ft) waterline, 213.3 metres (700 ft) extreme|
|Beam:||24.4 m (80 ft) waterline, 39 metres (128 ft) extreme|
|Draught:||7.3 m (24 ft)|
|Propulsion:||2 Parsons geared steam turbines 40,000 hp (30 MW), 4 Admiralty three-drum boilers|
|Speed:||23 knots (43 km/h)|
|Range:||12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)|
|Armament:||16 × 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns (later reduced to 8)|
|Aircraft carried:||Hawker Sea Hawk
Westland Sea King
Breguet Alizé Br.1050
INS Vikrant (R11) (Hindi: विक्रान्त) (formerly HMS Hercules (R49)) was a Majestic class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. She played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade on East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.
India purchased the INS Vikrant from the United Kingdom in 1957. Upon her completion in 1961, she was commissioned as the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. After a distinguished service, she was decommissioned in January 1997. She has since been preserved as a maritime museum in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai.
INS Vikrant was ordered as the HMS Hercules (R49) by the Royal Navy. She was laid down on 12 November 1943 by Vickers-Armstrong on the River Tyne. She was launched on 22 September 1945. However, with the end of World War II, her construction was suspended in May 1946 and she was laid up for possible future use.
In January 1957 she was sold to India. She was towed to Belfast to complete her construction and for modifications by Harland and Wolff. A number of improvements to the original design were ordered by the Indian Navy, including an angled deck, steam catapults and a modified island.
INS Vikrant (R11) was commissioned into the Indian Navy by then Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Vijayalakshmi Pandit on 4 March 1961 in Belfast. The name Vikrant was taken from Sanskrit vikrānta meaning "stepping beyond", i.e. "courageous" or "bold". Captain Pritam Singh was the first commanding officer of the carrier.
The Vikrant's initial air wing consisted of British Hawker Sea Hawk fighter-bombers and a French Alize anti-submarine aircraft. On 18 May 1961, the first jet landed on her deck piloted by Lieutenant (later Admiral) Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani. She formally joined the Indian Navy's Fleet in Bombay on 3 November 1961, when she was received at Ballard Pier by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
In June 1970, the INS Vikrant was at the Naval Dockyard for repairs due to a crack in a water drum of one of the boilers powering her steam catapult. Unable to procure a replacement drum from the United Kingdom due to an embargo, Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda ordered the routing of steam from her forward machinery to the steam catapult to bypass the damaged boiler. This repair enabled her to launch both the Sea Hawks as well as the Breguet Alizé, although she lost some cruising power. In March 1971, she was put through trials to test the fix. These modifications turned out to be valuable, enabling the Vikrant to enter combat despite the cracked boiler against East Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
Stationed off the Andaman & Nicobar Islands along with frigates, INS Brahmaputra (1958) and INS Beas (1960), the Vikrant redeployed towards Chittagong at the outbreak of hostilities. Based on Naval Intelligence reports that the Pakistan Navy intended to break through the Indian Naval blockade using camouflaged merchant ships, the Sea Hawks struck shipping in the Chittagong and Cox's Bazar harbors, sinking or incapacitating most ships in harbor. On the morning of 4 December 1971, the eight Sea Hawk aircraft on the Vikrant launched an air raid on Cox's Bazar from 60 nautical miles (110 km) offshore. On the evening of 4 December, the air group struck Chittagong Harbor. Later strikes targeted Khulna and Port of Mongla. A PTI report of 4 December read, "Chittagong harbour ablaze as ships and aircraft of the Eastern Naval Fleet bombed and rocketed. Not a single vessel can be put to sea from Chittagong." Air strikes continued until 10 December 1971 with not a single Sea Hawk lost.
The Pakistan Navy deployed the submarine PNS Ghazi to specifically target and sink the INS Vikrant. However, the Ghazi sank off Visakhapatnam harbor likely due to depth charges by INS Rajput (D141). During the war, the crew of Vikrant earned two Mahavir Chakras and 12 Vir Chakras.
Air Arm 
The Vikrant had four squadrons on board :
- INAS 300 "White Tigers" - flying Sea Hawks.
- INAS 310 "Cobras" - flying Alizes.
- INAS 321 "Angels" - flying Alouettes.
- INAS 330 "Harpoons" - flying Sea Kings.
Subsequent service 
Vikrant was given an extensive refit, including new engines and modernization between 1979 and 3 January 1982. Between December 1982 and February 1983 she was refitted again to enable her to operate BAe Sea Harriers which replaced the Sea Hawk. After the retirement of the Breguet Alizé from carrier service in 1989, she received a 'ski jump' for more efficient use of her Sea Harriers.
Vikrant was India's only carrier for over twenty years, but by the early 1990s she was effectively out of service because of her poor condition. Even following major overhauls she was rarely put to sea. She was formally decommissioned on 31 January 1997. Following her decommissioning, Vikrant was marked for preservation as a museum ship in Mumbai, although a lack of funding has prevented progress on the ship's conversion for this role. Similarly, speculation that the ship would be made into a training ship in 2006 came to nothing. Vikrant is open to the public by the Indian Navy for short periods, but as of April 2010, the Government of Maharashtra has been unable to find an industrial partner to operate the museum on a permanent, long-term basis.
She is the only World War II-era British-built aircraft carrier to be preserved as a museum.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: INS Vikrant (ship, 1961)|
- List of aircraft carriers
- List of ship launches in 1945
- List of ship commissionings in 1961
- List of ship decommissionings in 1997
- INS Viraat
- INS Vikramaditya
- Pradeep Barua. The State of War in South Asia.
- Klaus Dodds. Pink ice: Britain and the South Atlantic Empire.
- "HMS Hercules". Fleet Air Arm Archive. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Richard Jones, Chris Bishop, Chris Chant, Christopher Chant. Aircraft Carriers: The World's Greatest Naval Vessels and Their Aircraft.
- AsiaRooms.com - Indian Museum Ship (Vikrant) Mumbai
- "R11 Vikrant". Global Security. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Vice Admiral G.M. Hiranandani. "The Evolution of the Navy's Plan of Operations". Transition to Triumph. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- YouTube.com "Great battles: Liberation of Bangladesh 2 of 2". YouTube.
- "Indian Navy at War 1971 East". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty-first Century By Geoffrey Till
- "R 11 Vikrant". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- Tembhekar, Chittaranjan (14 April 2010). "No takers for INS Vikrant's museum plan". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- P R Sanjai / Mumbai March 14, 2006 (2006-03-14). "INS Vikrant will now be made training school". Business-standard.com. Retrieved 2011-03-07.
- Ireland, Bernard. The Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Carriers of the World. Hermes House, London, 2005. ISBN 1-84477-747-2
- Bharat Rakshak's note on the INS Vikrant
- Operations aboard the INS Vikrant in the Bay of Bengal - Article on the 1971 war ops as published in an anniversary online paper The Liberation Times.
- Video of INS Vikrant operations.