Aircraft carrier INS Viraat while it was being dismantled by a company for scrap
The dismantling of the Navy's former flagship, Viraat, has been kept on hold by the Supreme Court, which also issued notice to the company that bought the ship from the government to be made into scrap. The Supreme Court's order comes on a petition by a group that offered to buy the decommissioned carrier for Rs 100 crore and convert it into a museum.
A large portion of the carrier has already been dismantled when the order to stop work for now came today.
Visuals show the forward area where the flight deck used to be sliced clean by the shipbreaking company, exposing the metal innards of the carrier that was once the flagship of the Indian Navy.
The Defence Ministry in December last year had formally rejected an eleventh-hour plan to try and save INS Viraat from being broken up for scrap by the shipbreaker in Gujarat.
Envitech Marine Consultants Pvt Ltd has been looking to acquire the warship and convert INS Viraat into a maritime museum, parked off the coast of Goa in collaboration with the government of small coastal state.
Shree Ram Group of Industries, a shipbreaker based in Gujarat's Alang, had bought the decommissioned warship from the Indian Navy for scrap and opposed a potential sale to the group that wants to convert it into a museum.
Acquired from the UK in 1986 after an extensive refit, the INS Viraat came to define Indian naval power with its fleet of Sea Harrier fighter jets. Before that, INS Viraat had served as HMS Hermes in the Royal Navy and played a decisive role in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict when the UK went to war against Argentina in the South Atlantic.
The carrier was decommissioned in 2017 but early plans to covert her into a maritime museum failed. She was subsequently sold to Shree Ram group after an e-auction process through Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Ltd.