Kolkata, May 17 (PTI) A refuelling barge specially designed for carrying fuel mid-sea to Indian Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya was launched here today.

The privately built fuel barge with a capacity of 1000 tonnes was launched about 10 days ahead of schedule, Vice Admiral M S Pawar, Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command, said at a ceremony at Titagarh Shipyard on the banks of River Hooghly.

The fuel barge will depart for Mumbai dockyard of Indian Navy for delivery following various trials of machinery and speed, J P Chowdhury, chairman of Titagarh Wagons Limited (TWL) that manufactured the specialised vessel, said.

“Fuel Barge 14 has been specially designed for carrying fuel mid-sea to INS Vikramaditya, Indian Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier,” Chowdhury said.

“It may be a small step in warship building activity in the country, but it is a giant leap for private ship building in India for the Indian Navy,” Vice Admiral Pawar said.

He said that the barge has collapsible masts to cope with the huge overhangs of an aircraft carrier.

The availability of the fuel barge would mean that it can carry fuel for the huge aircraft carrier as well as for the warplanes on it at an anchorage away from the Mumbai port, a senior Navy official said.

The construction of the barge had started on May 9, 2017, TWL sources said.

“TWL is building another 1000 tonne fuel barge for the Navy, which is scheduled to be launched in July 2018,” Chowdhury said.

Two other vessels would also be built by TWL thereafter at the Titagarh Shipyard for Ministry of Earth Sciences for research and exploration purposes, he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.