New Delhi: INS Viraat, Indian Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, will retire from service today. The aircraft carrier which holds the Guinness Record for the oldest carrier in service was inducted into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987.
The ship, famously known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’, was with the British Royal Navy since 1959 before the Indian government bought it for Rs 6.5 crore in 1987.
It was known as HMS Hermes before being rechristened as INS Viraat. The motto of INS Viraat was ‘Jalamev Yasya, Balmev Tasya’ (meaning – One Who Controls the Sea is All Powerful), which was first adopted by the great warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the 17th century as the guiding principle of his naval-military strategy.
It housed the fighters ‘White Tigers’ – the Sea Harriers of INAS 300, which were decomissioned in Goa in May 2016, anti-submarine aircraft Sea King MK42B, Sea King MK42C or Harpoons, SAR helicopter Chetan, besides ALH Dhruv and Russian twin rotor Kamov-31.
INS Viraat played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 in Sri Lankan Peace Keeping operations, Operation Parakram in 2001-2002 when India and Pakistan were in a stand-off post-terror strikes on Indian Parliament, among others.
With a full load displacement of 28,700 tonnes, the 226.5 metres long and 48.78 metres wide ship was manned by 150 officers and 1,500 sailors.
While the final fate of the warship is yet to be decided, the Andhra Pradesh government had announced that it will turn the warship into a museum. As per the earlier reports, talks were underway with the Andhra Pradesh government to convert INS Viraat, into a luxury hotel-cum-museum after its decommissioning. The carrier is expected to berth on the coast of Visakhapatnam by mid-2017. At present, INS Vikramaditya is the only serving aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy and the second one, named Vikrant, and is under construction at Cochin Shipyard Ltd.