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INS Viraat arrives at Vizag port

Staff Reporter

The biggest naval vessel comes after four years The biggest naval vessel comes after four years



MIGHTY FORCE: Schoolchildren take a close look at a fighter aircraft during their visit to the Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat at Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

VISAKHAPATNAM: When India's only aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, comes calling, it's a big event.

The biggest naval vessel east of Suez, with its majestic presence, is here after a gap of four years for flying exercises as the west coast is being battered by rain.

The 750-feet long and 28,000-tonne Viraat is docked at the multipurpose berth of Visakhapatnam Port Trust lording over the berthing area. Carrying a complement of 30 fighter aircraft and helicopters, Viraat is the mightiest naval presence on the high seas of the country and its neighbourhood. With a crew of 1,500 men and 150 officers, the carrier with 13 decks operates up to three months on the high seas. Though her maximum speed is 28 knots, the economic speed is 12 knots.

All through the year the aircraft carrier is involved in exercises to prepare itself for any contingency, according to the Executive Officer of the carrier. The principle weapons of her offence and defence are its aircraft.

Sea Harrier

The fighter aircraft, Sea Harrier, is a versatile transonic jet capable of vertical take-off and landing. However, it generally does a short take-off and lands vertically. Operated by a single pilot and armed with 30 mm. guns, air-to-surface missiles, bombs, rockets and other ammunition, its main role is the air defence of the fleet. The Sea Harrier is capable of anti-ship strikes, close air support and reconnaissance.

The Sea King helicopters play a crucial role in detecting the lurking enemy submarines using its variable depth sonar and sonobuoys. An all-weather chopper, it attacks the submarine with lethal torpedoes or depth charges. Its endurance time is four hours, i.e. it can go out on a task for four hours and fly up to 200 miles from the base. Viraat also has the advanced light helicopter (ALH).

A good number of children from nine schools who were taken round Viraat were visibly excited on seeing the aircraft carrier with its defence and offence systems in place.

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