Shakti, the second Indian tanker being built by Fincantieri after the Deepak (Lamp), was launched with Vedic hymns being recited in the background by the Warship Production Superintendent in Italy and the breaking of a coconut and a bottle of champagne by Homai Saha, wife of the Indian ambassador to Rome, Debabrata Saha.
Vice Admiral NN Kumar, the Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition of the Indian Navy, was also present.
The first tanker, Deepak, is in an ‘advanced stage of trials’ according to a statement issued by the Indian Ministry of Defense. It is scheduled for delivery towards the end of this year, when trials of the Shakti are also expected to begin. The second tanker is expected to be delivered by the middle of next year.
Significantly, the Indian Comptroller and Auditor General had criticized the acceptance by the Indian Navy of the use of inferior grade steel by Fincantieri in the manufacture of these tankers, in his report to Parliament in August this year, saying, ‘‘undue favor to a foreign vendor in (the) procurement of fleet tankers’.