Can INS Viraat be rescued before its end?
After completing the last leg of its journey in September this year, Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat awaits being stripped apart for scrap. However, the Gujarat-based company Shree Ram Shipbreakers, which currently owns INS Viraat, has offered slim hope that it might allow for the aircraft carrier to be converted into a floating wartime museum. Here's what the company said.
Shree Ram wants government NOC, full payment
Shree Ram Shipbreakers Chairperson Mukesh Patel told NDTV that it is possible for the aircraft carrier to be converted into a museum if there is a government-sanctioned No Objection Certificate (NOC). The second condition is that Envitech Marine Consultants—which intends to convert INS Viraat into a museum—sends a full payment at once. The payment is expected to be at least Rs. 110 crore.
Shree Ram's conditions make procurement challenging for Envitech
Notably, Shree Ram Shipbreakers' offer makes it difficult for Envitech to procure INS Viraat since the latter would need to inspect the hull of the aircraft carrier, which has been beached in the silt off Alang since September. Envitech has proposed a Memorandum of Agreement which calls for two surveys of the hull to ensure the warship's seaworthiness.
Approaching government may be futile
Further, according to Envitech, approaching the Ministry of Defence may prove futile without at least the primary surveys and a letter of intent from Shree Ram Shipbreakers. In the past, the Defence Ministry has rejected several proposals to convert INS Viraat into a museum.
INS Viraat was decommissioned in 2017
INS Viraat originally belonged to the British Navy as HMS Hermes. Its construction had begun before World War II ended. The warship was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987 and was decommissioned in 2017. On September 20, INS Viraat left the Mumbai port for its last journey to Alang in Gujarat. Shree Ram Shipbreakers procured it through an e-auction for Rs. 38 crore.