The Sevmash Public Affairs Officer Mikhail Starozhilov announced that the Indian Navy aircraft carrier, which is being overhauled in the Severodvinsk shipyard, will be launched in December.
The former Russian heavy aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov has been in the floodable basin used as a dry dock since the end of 2005. The 45,000 ton, 283m long, 51m wide hull was repaired in that dock. "The launch of a ship of that displacement is the first in the history of the new Russia", Starozhilov said. The process of filling the basin and the removal of the cruiser will take around 10 days. After that the ship will be moved to the Sevmash construction wharf.
According to the intergovernmental memorandum of understanding signed in New Dehli in 2004, the hull of the Admiral Gorshkov was transfered to India for free with the condition that it would be modernized at Sevmash and equipped with a Russian air group. Russia would also train the Indian crew of around 1,500 sailors and would create the infrastructure for basing the ship and the airgroup in the Indian Ocean. The original contract was valued at about 1.5 billion dollars. About half of that was intended to convert the ship into a full aircraft carrier and that work was planned to be completed in 2008. However the contract was extended and the Russian side insisted on increasing the cost of the work on modernizing the ship significantly. According to experts, an additional billion dollars is needed. The Indian and Russian governments are holding negotiations on this issue.