- INS Viraat, oldest aircraft carrier, decommissioned today
- It will be scrapped if no buyer is found in 4 months: Navy Chief
- INS Viraat has spent 30 years in the Navy; 27 years in Royal Navy
The INS Viraat, the former HMC Hermes of the Royal British Navy, was built during World War II and joined the Indian Navy in 1986.
Admiral Lanba said INS Viraat would not be headed for the scrapyard before four to six months. "I have some other proposal in my mind, which I will put forward and see what happens," he shared.
"One proposal could be that we convert her into a marine museum by taking her to one of our major tourist harbors and sink her in the water and make her into a dive site... where some aircraft carriers have been put to rest also... and she would be there as a legacy."
If no buyer is found for the ship in four months, he said, it will be broken and sold for scrap. "It depends on who bids and gets the contract," said the Navy Chief, asked how soon the ship could be headed to Alang in Gujarat to be scrapped.
The Andhra Pradesh government had proposed the idea of converting the old ship into a museum, but the project will cost almost Rs 1,000 crore.
Sea Harrier fighters, Sea King and Kamov helicopters took off from the ship, which has sailed nearly 11 lakh km, enough to cover the globe 27 times.
INS Viraat played a major role in 1989 in the Sri Lankan peace keeping operation and was also used during the Operation Parakram after the 2001 parliament attack.
At the solemn decommissioning ceremony in Mumbai, many of its former commanders were present.
In the heart of the old steam ship, temperatures often rose to 60 degrees during operations, said officers. This part of the ship was constructed before the Second World War and mostly remains unchanged even decades later.
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