Kochi: Taking time off from his hectic schedule, Prince Charles on Tuesday visited INS Vikrant, India`s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, now under construction at the public sector Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).
Shipyard chairman and managing director Commodore K Subramaniam and Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Naval Command, Vice Admiral Satish Soni received the Prince of Wales at the shipyard and escorted him to the aircraft carrier, the biggest warship to be built in the country.
Prince Charles, who was in the ship for half an hour, was taken to the flight deck and hangar deck of the ship by Commodore Subramaniam, Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Rear Admiral MS Pawar, Flag officer Sea Training and Commodore Pradeep Kumar, Warships Production Superintendent.
India had launched its first Indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in August this year, thus joining the elite club of nations with the capability of designing and building a warship of this size and capability.
The ship is expected to be ready for trials in 2016 and is likely to be inducted by 2018. The gas turbine ship, which will be operating MIGS and other aircraft, has a tonnage of 37,500.
Commodore Subramaniam later told reporters that the royal visitor, who spent nearly one and half hours at the CSL, was `very pleased` with the quality of work. He wanted to know about the time lines, when it was going to be launched.
Prince Charles was very happy with the quality of work being carried out at the shipyard and the energy and enthusiasm of workers, Subramaniam said.
He appreciated the efforts of shipyard in the construction of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier and looked at the contribution made by M/s Mactaggart Scott, UK, for the deck edge lifts for aircraft.
He also briefly interacted with four women workers-- Jagadamma, the only women welder at the shipyard and fitters Shobhanakumari, Vijayamma and Rajalakshmi.
`Are you Happy? , What are your names? How long have you been here?`, the Prince asked as he moved on.
Shobhanakumari, who has been at the Hull Shop for 34 years, is a gold medallist in the Asian Masters Athletic meet in 1996 at Seoul and in the 2005 Bangalore Asian meet she had cornered two medals. Prince Charles was also taken to the CSL Main office, which showcased a pictorial history of the shipyard.
Photographs of UK mission identifying Cochin for the new shipyard in 1958, the site before commissioning of the shipyard, Keel laying of indigenous aircraft carrier on February 28, 2007, models and photographs of various ships built at the yard, a trowel used by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for laying the foundation stone of CSL in April, 1972 were among those on display.
The Prince would be briefed about the contribution made by M/s Mactaggart Scott, UK for the deck edge lifts for the aircraft on Indigenous Aircraft Carrier construction in Cochin Shipyard. He will also briefed on the work done by shipyard on the existing aircraft carrier INS Viraat.
Prince Charles has an emotional bonding to this ship having served on HMS Hermes (Prior to the ship`s acquisition by the Indian Navy) during the Falkland wars.
The yard has constructed 22 vessels of different Rolls Royce Designs to clients based in Norway, Cyprus, USA, Germany, Netherlands and India. All these designs are high technology vessel meeting the latest regulation on the environment and safety.