INS Viraat embarks on final voyage to Mumbai

25 Oct 2016 | By Ramya

The world's oldest aircraft carrier INS Viraat was given a grand send-off from Kochi after its 56-year service to the Navy.

She underwent a decommissioning refit and is being towed by three tugs to Mumbai for a decommissioning ceremony scheduled in Nov'16.

Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ravindra Nadkarni and others bid farewell to Viraat at Cochin Port Trust's Ernakulam Wharf.

In context: INS Viraat - Indian Navy's Grand Old Lady

IntroductionAbout INS Viraat

INS Viraat is a Centaur-class aircraft carrier in the Indian Navy; she was the Navy's flagship before the commissioning of INS Vikramaditya in 2013.

The last British-built ship serving with the Indian Navy holds the Guinness record for being the world's oldest aircraft carrier in service.

She spent 29 years in service with the Indian Navy and 27 years with the UK's Royal Navy.

HistoryViraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987

Viraat was completed and commissioned into the Royal Navy (UK) in 1959 as HMS Hermes and decommissioned in 1984.

In 1987, she was sold to India after which she was commissioned into the Indian Navy in May 1987.

However, the Indian Navy stated in Feb'15 that she would be decommissioned in 2016.

Her age and huge maintenance cost prompted the Navy to consider decommissioning.

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Major OperationsIntegral part of all major naval exercises

INS Viraat played a significant role in the 1989 Operation Jupiter (India's peacekeeping operations in Sri Lanka) and the 1999 Operation Vijay (Kargil War).

She participated in several international joint exercises like Malabar with the US Navy, Varuna with French Navy, and Naseem-Al-Bahar with the Omani Navy.

Her last operational deployment was for the participation in the International Fleet Review 2016 (IFR-2016) at Visakhapatnam.

Primary ElementsViraat spent over 2,250 days at sea sailing

INS Viraat operated Sea Harrier (White Tigers), Seaking 42B (Harpoons - Anti-Submarine Helicopters) and Seaking 42C (Commando Carrier Helicopters) and Chetak (Angles - SAR Helicopter) as its primary air elements.

With the Indian Navy, several aircraft have flown for over 22,034 hours from her decks.

She has spent over 2,250 days at sea sailing and traveled more than 5,88,288 Nautical Miles (10,94,215 Kilometers).

Decommissioning refit

On 23 Jul'16, INS Viraat had sailed from Mumbai for the final time under her own power to undergo decommissioning refit comprising dry-docking and other decommissioning preparations at Kochi. Earlier in 2013, she handed over the mantle of carrier operations to INS Vikramaditya.

25 Oct 2016INS Viraat embarks on final voyage to Mumbai

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Special bond with Kochi

INS Viraat shares a special bond with Kochi and the Cochin Shipyard Limited where it had been refitted every time it required repairs or regular periodic maintenance. The current refitting, her 14th, was to ensure she is made safe for disposal.

Her FuturePost-retirement life of INS Viraat

INS Viraat now awaits decommissioning orders at Mumbai.

In Jul'15, the Indian Navy announced that Viraat would be transferred to the Andhra Pradesh Government at a cost of Rs.20 crore after decommissioning.

AP Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu confirmed the same in Feb'16.

Viraat would reportedly be converted into a museum ship or an island hotel in Visakhapatnam, similar to Udaipur's Lake Palace hotel.

21 Feb 2017INS Viraat may be sold as scrap after retirement

Indian Navy's INS Viraat, set to retire on March 6, could be sold as scrap, as a proposal to convert it into a museum remains in limbo.

The Defence Ministry and Andhra Pradesh are negotiating who will foot the estimated Rs. 1,000cr bill for the conversion.

INS Vikrant was junked after being supported at Mumbai port for 17 years, as no proposal finally materialized.

06 Mar 2017INS Viraat, world's oldest aircraft carrier, all set to retire

A ceremony will be held in Mumbai on March 6 for decommission of INS Viraat, the world's oldest aircraft carrier in service, after 30 years with the Indian Navy.

The naval flag on the 1943-built warship will be lowered and wrapped up at sunset.

Though there are proposals to convert it to a museum, a decision hasn't been taken yet.