INS Vikrant, the first made-in-India aircraft carrier, hit the seas today after being in the works for over a decade. INS Vikrant is the reincarnation of its eponymous predecessor which was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1961. The Indian Navy purchased it from the British Royal Navy in 1957 where the ship was called HMS Hercules. 

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After being in use for a long time before joining the Indian Navy, the ship was undergoing refitting at the Bombay harbour and was not ready during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. However, when the 1971 war between India and Pakistan broke out over the liberation of Bangladesh, INS Vikrant was was brought back into the game. In fact, during the naval blockade of the 1971 war, the INS Vikrant was the focal point of the Easter Fleet.

It first set sail to the Andaman Nicobar island on 13 November 1971 with 18 aircraft on board. From there the INS Vikrant headed towards the key ports of Bangladesh.

The first task of the aircraft carrier was to attack the harbours at Chittagong and Cox Bazar, and accordingly, six Sea Hawks aircraft were launched from it. They struck the harbours with 500-pound bombs and damaged many of the ships anchored there. 

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Over a period of 10 days, the INS Vikrant mounted more than 300 airstrikes in different parts of the enemy territory. Due to the impact of the INS Vikrant in the 1971 war, the Indian Navy was able to establish full control in the Bay of Bengal. It provided determining strategic impetus to India’s war efforts by cutting off all war supplies from the Pakistani army via the Bay of Bengal. 

Soon, the Pakistani troops stationed in erstwhile East Pakistan fell short of supplies and surrendered within just 13 days on 16 December 1971.