Similarly, there are about 40-50 vendor representatives, including 10 from abroad, who cannot come to Kochi for basin trials without facing the deterring prospect of mandatory quarantine.
“The Navy has even offered to organise the vendors’ quarantine and to pay the expenses that are incurred. Given how much this delay in trials is escalating the cost of INS Vikrant, we would pay less for the quarantine and related expenditure. But the Kerala government is not agreeing to this,” says a Navy Admiral.
“We were optimistic about finding a solution because Kochi and Ernakulam are green zones. But when we request the Kerala government, they say: ‘Yes, we are in a green zone, but we don’t want to convert it back to a red zone’,” he said.
In his Navy Day press meeting last December, the Navy chief, Admiral Karambir Singh, had said the Navy would have a fully operational INS Vikrant
before the end of 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic has already pushed that back to 2023 and further delays are possible.
Karambir Singh stated it was operationally essential for the Navy to operate three aircraft carriers. It now appears that, for about three more years, it will have to make do with its lone carrier — the Russia-built INS Vikramaditya.