INS Viraat, Indian Navy’s ‘grand old lady’, set to be decommissioned: Why the aircraft carrier was special for India
INS Viraat: The Indian Navy bid an emotional farewell to INS Viraat, said to be the world's oldest aircraft carrier, and one that has served the Navy for over five decades. The ship, which underwent a decommissioning refit, is being towed back by three tugs to Mumbai for the decommissioning ceremony.
INS Viraat will be decommissioned by end of 2016, after 55 years of service, including 27 years with the Royal Navy (British Navy). We take a look at some facts about the INS Viraat:
INS Viraat holds the Guinness Record for being the oldest serving warship. It is a Centaur-Class aircraft carrier.
INS Viraat is a 28,000-tonne warship, that was inducted into the Indian Navy in May 1987. It was commissioned in the British Royal Navy in 1959.
The ship has been stripped of its weapons, propulsion systems, auxiliary and communication equipment and radars at the Cochin Shipyard.
In its 57 years of journey, the aircraft carrier underwent several upgrades and refits. It served in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes. The ship is commonly referred to as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ among the Naval community.
The ship operated Sea Harrier (White Tigers - fighter air crafts), Seaking 42B (Harpoons - Anti Submarine helicopters) & Seaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak (Angles - SAR helicopter) as her main air elements. The Sea Harrier fleet was also recently decommissioned at Goa in May 2016.
According to the Indian Navy, the INS Viraat has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea sailing 5,88,288 NM (10, 94,215 KM). This implies that Viraat has been at sea for over six years covering the entire globe about 27 times.
INS Viraat played a big role in 'Operation Jupiter' in 1989 (Indian Peace Keeping operations in Sri Lanka) and 'Operation Vijay' in the year 1999 (Kargil War).
The last operational deployment of the ship was for participation in International Fleet Review (IFR-2016) at Visakhapatnam. INS Viraat handed over the mantle of carrier operations to INS Vikramaditya which was commissioned in the year 2013.
The Indian Navy has reportedly agreed to hand over the INS Viraat to Andhra Pradesh government after its decommissioning. The state government has expressed interest in getting INS Viraat to berth in Vizag for promotion of tourism after its decommissioning.
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