serving warship INS Viraat sails into the sunset
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BL InkAs the sun set on Monday, the Naval Ensign and Commissioning Pennant was lowered for the last time on board the INS Viraat in a symbolic final salute to a valiant Man of War, which for over half a century kept vigil in various seas of the world serving under two Navies.
The second Centaur Class aircraft carrier served almost 30 years in the Indian Navy after a 27 year stint with the Royal Navy, her theatre of operation ranging from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Little wonder that INS Viraat sailed into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest serving warship.
INS Viraat was commissioned by the British Navy as HMS Hermes on November 18, 1959. Her role in ‘Operation Mercy’ of 1974 and the Falklands War of 1982 stands testimony to her fighting spirit. Hermes was decommissioned in 1984 and sold to India in 1987.
INS Viraat saw its first major Indian action in 1989, when she became part of ‘Operation Jupiter’ in Sri Lanka.
It honed the Indian Navy’s flying skills, and over the past three decades, various aircraft on the ship have clocked more than 22,622 flying hours, an official communication from the Western Naval Command said.
INS Viraat played a major role in ‘Operation Parakram’ in 2001 02, when India and Pakistan faced off after a terrorist attack on Parliament. Its last operational deployment was in the International Fleet Review at Visakhapatnam in February 2016.
The Andhra Pradesh government is keen to take over the ship and turn it into a museum. Though it has approached the Defence Ministry in this regard, the high cost of the project, amounting to over 1,000 crore, has proved to be a hurdle.
The Navy also wants to retain the aircraft carrier as a museum, but is wary after the Vikrant experience. India’s hermes green clé silk scarf replica
first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which was turned into a maritime museum post its retirement in 1997, had to be broken up after its upkeep became too expensive.