Defence Minister Rajnath Singh aboard the INS Visakhapatnam in Mumbai

According to Singh, Vikrant is an important milestone in their path to achieving ‘Atmanirbharta’

The indigenously-built aircraft carrier Vikrant — which is expected to be commissioned into the Indian Navy by August 2022 — will increase the blue-water force's reach from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1 (IAC-1) was built at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).

The new carrier, named after erstwhile decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, has undergone basin trials and maiden sea trials.

“The carrier will increase our reach from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Mumbai at the commissioning ceremony of guided-missile stealth destroyer INS Visakhapatnam.

“Vikrant’s commissioning will be a golden moment in the history of the Indian defence. It will be the best occasion to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India's independence and the 50th anniversary of India's victory in 1971 war,” Singh said.

According to Singh, Vikrant is an important milestone in their path to achieving ‘Atmanirbharta’.

Work on the ship's design began in 1999, and the keel was laid in February 2009.

The carrier was floated out of the dry dock on December 29, 2011 and was launched on August 12, 2013.

The basin trials were completed in December 2020 and the ship began sea trials in August 2021.

Vikrant is scheduled to be commissioned into service by August 2022, with flight trials of aircraft expected to be completed by mid-2023.

In his address to officers and other ranks, and their families, Singh emphasised the need to keep the Indo-Pacific region open, safe and secure, terming it as the primary objective of the Indian Navy.

He asserted that India’s interests are directly linked with the Indian Ocean and the region is crucial for the world economy.

“Challenges such as piracy, terrorism, illegal smuggling of arms and narcotics, human trafficking, illegal fishing and damage to the environment are equally responsible for affecting the maritime domain. Therefore, the role of the Indian Navy becomes very important in the entire Indo-Pacific region,” he added.

The Defence Minister underscored the importance of a rule-based freedom of navigation and security of sea lanes in the present era of globalisation to ensure stability, economic progress and development of the world.

Singh reiterated that India, as a responsible maritime stakeholder, is a supporter of consensus-based principles and a peaceful, open, rule-based and stable maritime order.

“In the 'United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea' (UNCLOS) of 1982, territorial waters of nations, exclusive economic zones and the principle of 'good order at sea' have been propounded. Some irresponsible nations, for the sake of their narrow partisan interests, keep on giving new and inappropriate interpretations to these international laws from hegemonic tendencies,” he said in what seems to be a message aimed at China and Pakistan.

“The arbitrary interpretations create obstacles in the path of a rule-based maritime order. We envision a rule-based Indo-Pacific, with freedom of navigation, free trade and universal values, in which the interests of all the participating countries are protected,” he said.