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In Shipshape: With INS Vikrant, India Joins Elite Group of Nations with Large Homemade Aircraft Carriers

By: News Desk


Last Updated: September 02, 2022, 21:24 IST

New Delhi, India

Snippets of the INS Vikrant commissioning ceremony in Kochi on Friday. (News18)

Snippets of the INS Vikrant commissioning ceremony in Kochi on Friday. (News18)

News18 tells you who are the other members of this exclusive club

Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned India’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in Kochi on Friday, which puts India into a select league of countries with the domestic capability to build such large warships.

The Prime Minister commissioned the carrier, built at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore, at a function organised at the Cochin Shipyard Limited.

While India’s first aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, was procured from Russia and commissioned in 2013, INS Vikrant is indigenously built.

Here are other members of the elite club that India is now part of:


United States

The Yorktown class carriers were the first purpose-built carriers for the US Navy. The Yorktown, Enterprise, and Hornet were its three ships. They could accommodate 80 to 90 aircraft, were more than 800 feet long, and had a 2,900-person crew.

Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, two additional classes of carriers—the Essex-class and the Independence-class—were commissioned in preparation for World War II. The carriers of the Essex-class came to represent the US Navy’s core power during the conflict. The carriers were continuously improved upon and altered after World War II. Some were given angled flight decks and the ability to carry jets. A few carriers even served in Vietnam. In 1991, the final carrier of the Essex-class that served as a training vessel was decommissioned.

As time progressed, America kept making innovations in its aircraft carriers. Today, the only carriers in service with the US Navy are the 10 Nimitz-class carriers and the new Gerald R Ford-class, which was commissioned in 2017.

Ford-class carriers are about 1,100 feet long, have a crew of 4,500, and can carry 75 aircraft, including the US Navy’s new F-35C stealth fighter.

The ships feature a suite of new technology and systems, including the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, which uses electromagnetic power instead of steam.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom experimented with the aircraft carrier back during World War I. It developed HMS Argus, the first true carrier with an unobstructed flight deck.

Then came HMS Hermes, which served in the British and Indian navies for 58 years in total. The first Centaur-class flattop with conventional propulsion was launched in 1953 and went into service with the Royal Navy in 1959.

The HMS Hermes served as the British armada’s flagship during the 1982 Falklands War, escorting more than 100 ships to the South Atlantic to retake the islands from the Argentines.

Hermes’ post-Falklands life was brief. The carrier was decommissioned in 1984 following a refit and an exercise, but its career was not over. After undergoing modifications, the carrier was sold to India in 1986. In a ceremony held in the UK in May 1987, the carrier was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Viraat.

Two carriers are currently in use by the British Navy: HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. When fully loaded, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales both weigh about 72,000 tonnes and are 920 feet long. The ships use a conventional propulsion system.

The £3-billion HMS Prince of Wales recently made headlines when, less than hours after setting sail for training exercises with the US Navy and Marine Corps and the Royal Canadian Navy, it came to a complete stop.


The Soviet Union launched the helicopter carrier Moskva in 1967. Two years later, Leningrad, her sister, was launched. These anti-submarine ships weighed 12,000 tons and could carry 14 Kamov helicopters. Both were retired in the 1990s.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed Admiral Kuznetsov, the largest conventionally powered carrier in the world.

The Kuznetsov, built in Ukraine’s Nikolayev shipyards, has a length of 1,000 feet and a displacement of 58,000 tonnes. The ship wasn’t used much after the fall of the Soviet Union, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent it on combat missions to Syria as a representation of Russia’s resurgenceon the international stage.

It also developed the Kiev-class aircraft carriers. At 899 feet, the ships were approximately 85 per cent as long as the US Navy’s new Nimitz-class carriers.

Of the four Kiev-class aircraft carriers, Baku remained and was later sold to the Indian government to be converted into a full aircraft carrier. Converted by Russia’s Sevmash shipyards in the 2000s and 2010s, today it is known as the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and is the flagship of the Indian fleet.


China in 2016 transformed a Soviet aircraft carrier into Liaoning — the first for the Asian giant. It was in 2019, that China built its own aircraft carrier — Shandong. It is manufactured by Dalian Shipyard and has a top speed of about 31 knots. It can carry about 66,000–70,000 tons.

The Shandong is an estimated 304 metres long and is capable of housing 1,900 crew members.

In June, China launched its new-generation aircraft carrier — the Type 003 carrier christened Fujian. The Fujian uses electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices to enable planes to take off and land on its deck. The ship has a displacement of more than 80,000 tonnes.

The Fujian will now start mooring and sea trials. The launch of the Fujian is part of an ongoing effort to modernise the People’s Liberation Army Navy.


As of now, France has one operating aircraft carrier — Charles de Gaulle — named after the country’s most revered statesman of the 20th century.

Built by DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) Brest naval shipyard in Brittany, her keel was laid on 14 April 1989, she was launched on 7 May 7 1994 and she made her maiden voyage on 18 May 2001.

The ship has a displacement of 38,000 tonnes, a hull length of 261.5 meters (858 feet), a beam of 64.36 meters (211.2 feet), a height of 66.5 meters, and a draught of 9.43 meters (30.9 feet). The aircraft carrier can accommodate up to 40 aircraft, including 24 Dassault Rafale M multirole fighters (Dassault-Breguet Super-Étendard previously served in this capacity), two E-2C Hawkeyes, two NFH Caiman Marine helicopters, one Eurocopter AS565 Panther, and two AS365 Dauphin (‘Dolphin’) Pedro helicopters.

There are reports that France will now build its second aircraft carrier with better and more advanced technologies.

According to Forbes, the new ship will be bigger than Charles de Gaulle and can move up to 75,000 tonnes of water. Additionally, it is anticipated that the new ship will be able to carry more aircraft.

(With inputs from agencies)

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first published:September 02, 2022, 21:24 IST
last updated:September 02, 2022, 21:24 IST