The world’s oldest aircraft carrier in active service, INS Viraat will be decommissioned on 6 March 2017. The iconic carrier will receive a ceremonial send off in Mumbai.
Similar to the decommissioning of INS Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier in January 1997, INS Viraat’s send off would also be an emotional moment for the naval officers and other personnel who were deployed on the ship.
• INS Viraat is the longest serving aircraft carrier in the Indian naval fleet. It was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987.
• It will be retiring after serving the country for nearly three decades.
• The decommissioning ceremony will be attended by Manohar Parrikar, the defence minister along with several other dignitaries.
• The event would witness the lowering and wrap-up of the naval flag installed on the warship at sunset.
About INS Viraat
• It was built in 1943, during the Second World War.
• It was commissioned as the Royal British Navy’s HMS Hermes in 1959 and decommissioned in 1984.
• It was sold to India in 1987 and served the navy for 27 years.
• The ship sailed for the last time under its own power in July 2016 from Mumbai to Kochi where it was dry-docked and prepared for decommissioning.
Though the historic ship’s ultimate fate is still undecided, there is a possibility that it may be turned into a museum to preserve it as a relic of maritime history forever. The Ministry of Defence is, however, yet to take a final decision, as converting the carrier into a museum would require an investment of about ₹1000 Cr besides the daily running cost.