The country’s first aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, will be auctioned this month, Shekhar Sinha, vice-admiral of the Western Naval Command, said on Tuesday. But it is not clear yet whether the naval vessel will be headed for the scrapyard or be maintained as a museum.
If the company that will buy INS Vikrant wants to make it into a museum, we will help in this effort,” Sinha told a news conference on the occasion of Navy Week. Vikrant was decommissioned in 1997 and preserved as a museum. Some time ago, the state government expressed its inability to bear the cost of its maintenance, after which the defence ministry decided to sell the vessel.
“A minimum price was set and the auction process has been initiated. A few companies have already expressed their interest. An advisory board is managing the process,” Sinha said.
On the INS Sindhurakshak accident, the vice-admiral said divers were continuing to search for the remains of the personnel who were killed in the explosion at the Naval Dockyard on August 14.
The bodies of 11 have been recovered so far. Sinha said all the 18 personnel who died have been declared as battle casualties and all due benefits, including insurance, will be given to their families. The navy is also trying to provide jobs to the family members.
Sinha said three companies were shortlisted for the salvage operations. The government has opened commercial bids and the submarine will be handed over to the company selected after completion of due process.
The vice-admiral also informed that the government was looking to buy a couple of submarine deep-sea rescue vessels. It is has also signed an agreement with the US to help in any such accident in the future.