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Gorshkov deal merely on ‘visual examination’
Published on 27 Sep. 2009 11:20 PM IST
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India signed the multi-million dollar deal of decommissioned Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov merely on “visual examination in as-is condition” and the Navy “thought” ship could be repaired. After signing the contract in 2004 and opening up of the equipment for detailed examination and survey of the state of the hull structure, systems and cabling, it emerged that these could not be repaired and hence would have to be replaced with new ones, says Vice Admiral SPS Cheema. The contract for the aircraft carrier was signed in January 2004 for which the “work package was drawn up based on visual examination in ‘as-is’ condition wherein it was thought that the majority of equipment, systems and hull structures could be repaired while the electronic equipment could be renewed,” Vice Admiral Cheema said in a reply to an RTI application filed by Subhash Chandra Agrwal. “This has resulted in additional work and in the interest to endure operation efficacy of the ship, these additional works have been accepted for consideration. The extra works have in turn resulted in increase in the project cost,” he said. The deal which was signed for USD 974 million has escalated by about 300 per cent to USD 2.9 billion, according to sources. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had also slammed the Indian Navy for the deal in which it would be “acquiring, belatedly, a second hand ship with a limited life span by paying significantly more than what it would have paid for a new ship.” The report without naming the ship said that it was not an aircraft carrier but more of a cruiser equipped with a flight deck which had to be configured for a different type of service from that of its original design, reported ZeeNews. “The vendor’s shipyard that was to undertake the Repair and Re-equipping work, had neither repaired ships of this magnitude nor had any work experience on aircraft carriers,” the report had said. Vice-Admiral Cheema refuted the report saying that the “basis on which the report has arrived at such a conclusion is not known, as per the data available from Internet and other sources, a new carrier of size of Gorshkov, is likely to cost anything between USD 3 and 4 billion and that too understandably without the spares, training, infrastructure and documentation cost.” He said it is not feasible to buy a new aircraft carrier commercially off-the shelf. “It may be noted that with the additional works being done on the ship, the carrier is almost going to be a new carrier with a service life equivalent to a new aircraft carrier,” he said. India had inked the package deal with Russia on January 20, 2004 which included the “gift” of the cruiser with payments being made only for the repair and re-equipping needed to convert it into an aircraft carrier and for the acquisition of certain fighter aircraft for it. The delivery was to be made in 52 weeks with contract stipulating that ship’s service life will be minimum 20 years, the RTI reply said. The cost included USD 974 million, about Rs 4,880 crore as per CAG report, for the ship and additional Rs 4,047 crore for the fighter aircraft for it.

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