Mumbai: Defence Minister AK Antony will commission the much-delayed Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikramaditya, the country’s second aircraft carrier and the largest warship, at a Russian shipyard on Saturday.

Antony leaves New Delhi on Friday on a four-day visit to Russia to commission the warship and also to co-chair the 13th Meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Co-operation (IRIGCMTC) with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu. The commissioning ceremony will take place at Sevmash Shipyard, Severodvinsk, and the meeting will take place in Moscow on Monday, stated a Ministry of Defence release.

It said, “The Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Defence Minister Shoigu will also be there to witness the landmark event.”

Accompanying the defence minister are high-level delegations for both the events with the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D.K. Joshi and Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur among those present at the commissioning of the naval ship. The defence minister’s delegation to the meeting will include Mathur, G.C. Pati, Secretary, Defence Production, S.B. Agnihotri, DG, Acquisition and senior officers of the Armed Forces.

At the IRIGCMTC meeting, a broad spectrum of issues related to on-going and proposed defence projects and defence co-operation between the two countries will be discussed. The two sides will also exchange views on regional and global issues of concern to both the countries. Established in 2000 with a view to strengthen defence co-operation between the two countries, it has been meeting annually, alternately in India and Russia.

The refurbished warship, once inducted, will be a much-needed addition to the country’s sole aircraft carrier INS Viraat. Expected to operate on the eastern and western seaboards, the two carriers will provide a strategic advantage and designed to boost India’s maritime capabilities. Vikramaditya, formerly known as Admiral Gorshkov, has completed all trials after a delay of five years.

The new warship is a Kiev class aircraft carrier which was commissioned by Russian Navy in 1987 under the name Baku and later renamed Gorshkov. The carrier served with the Soviet Union (until its dissolution) and Russian Navies before being decommissioned in 1996 as she was too expensive to operate during the post-Cold War budget. Purchased by India, the refit cost soared during the years of delay to $2.3billion.

The 44,500-tonne and 282-metre length warship has a capacity to hold 34 aircraft — 24 MiG-29K naval combat aircraft along and 10 Kamov 31 and Kamov 28 anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance helicopters. The MiGs would provide a significant boost to Indian Navy with their range of over 700 nautical miles, extendable to over 1,900.

With over 1,600 personnel on board, INS Vikramaditya would literally be a “floating city” with mammoth logistical requirements of nearly 100,000 eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice per month.