New Delhi: 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
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.
"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.
First Published: Sunday, September 27, 2009, 20:52