SIT launches probe into theft of hard drives from INS Vikrant in Kochi

Hard drives stolen from INS Vikrant, under construction at Cochin Shipyard
India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, under construction at Cochin Shipyard. Photo: Indian Navy

Kochi: In an incident that might involve security risks, computer hard disks were stolen from INS Vikrant, India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, under construction at Cochin Shipyard here in Kerala's Ernakulam district.

A special investigation team has been formed to probe the theft at the Cochin Shipyard, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera told media.

The probe is being monitored by Kochi Police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare.

The hard disks were stolen from four computers, according to a complaint registered by Shipyard officials. Kerala Police has begun probe into the incident and is concentrating their efforts to rule out the possibility of an inside job. The security risks attached to the incident will also be investigated, Kerala Police informed.

Cochin Shipyard is the largest shipbuilding and maintenance facility in India. It is under the purview of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

The incident has raised concerns about the security at the shipbuilding facility, which is tightly guarded. While CCTV cameras are installed at its premises, surveillance sensors were not fitted onboard the under-construction aircraft carrier.

The officials were unaware of the time and date of the alleged theft. The disks were onboard the vessel till August 28.

Indian Navy has downplayed the theft, noting that the aircraft carrier is not yet part of the service. Indian Navy officials told media persons that no sensitive information of the Indian Navy was present on the stolen equipment.

INS Vikrant is the first Indian indigenous aircraft carrier vessel of the Indian Navy designed and built in India. The work on the ship's design began in 1999, and the keel was laid in February 2009. As of 2019, the ship is expected to start sea trials in February 2021 and enter into service as early as 2023. The project cost has neared Rs 20,000 crores.

With the completion of INS Vikrant, India will join the ranks of US, England, Russia, France and China in the construction of flight carriers.

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