INS Viraat, India’s oldest aircraft carrier, retires today: All you want to know

By: | Published: March 6, 2017 12:16 PM

The INS Viraat, the oldest serving warship in history will be retiring from service today, on March 6, 2017.

INS Viraat, INS Viraat photos, INS Viraat pics, INS Viraat pictures, ins viraat farewell, ins viraat farewell photosMore than 22, 034 aircraft have taken off from the INS Viraat while it has been under the service of the Indian Navy. (Reuters)

The INS Viraat, the oldest serving warship in history will be retiring from service today, on March 6, 2017. Having served 29-30 years under the Indian Navy, the warship is to be towed back to Mumbai from Kochi to complete the decommissioning ceremony. It had arrived in Kochi in July 2016 for Essential Repairs and Dry Docking, something which had been completed on September 4, 2016. Before serving under the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987, the INS Viraat had earlier served with the UK”s Royal Navy for a good 27 years under the name HMS Hermes. While serving in the Indian Navy, the INS Viraat had a major role in Operation Jupiter, operation Parakram and operation Vijay among others. It must be noted that in the face of technological advancements and huge maintenance costs, the INS Viraat has to be decommissioned.

As the INS Viraat is to be decommissioned today, here are 5 things, you should know about the historic aircraft carrier.:

1) The INS Viraat had been drafted into the service of the Indian Navy at Plymouth, UL on May 12, 1987, by the then UK High Commissioner to India, P C Alexander. The ship used to operate Sea Harrier (White Tigers- fighter aircraft), Speaking 42B (Harpoons- Anti-Submarine helicopters) & Speaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak (Angles- SAR helicopter).

2) INS VIraat had originally been commissioned as the HMS Hermes by the British Royal Navy on November 18, 1959. It served as one of the Royal Navy’s 4 prime Strike Carriers, operating mostly in the Indian Ocean, between 1959-1970. Its contribution in the Falkland wars cannot be forgotten.The Indian Parliament on April 24, 1986, announced that it would acquire the HMS Hermes for £63 million.

3) Operation Jupiter was INS Viraat’s first big operation on 1989. Following the breakdown of the Indian-Srilankan accord of 1986, it went into service as a part of the Indian Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka.

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4) The ship’s last operational deployment was participating in the International Fleet Review 2016 at Vishakhapatnam on February 2-16, according to IE. More than 22, 034 aircraft have taken off from the INS Viraat while it has been under the service of the Indian Navy.

5) INS Viraat has been a part of several international exercises such as the Malabar with the US Navy, Varuna with the French and Naseem-Al-Bahr with the Oman Navy, all these while being an essential part of the annual TROPEX.

The future of the ship after being decommissioned is yet to be decided by the Indian government but it is speculated that it would rest on the east coast.

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