After nearly 30 years with Indian Navy, aircraft carrier INS Viraat decommissioned

The majestic INS Viraat was finally lowered in a solemn ceremony on Monday.

After nearly 30 years with Indian Navy, aircraft carrier INS Viraat decommissioned
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Mumbai: The majestic INS Viraat, the second centaur-class aircraft carrier which was in service with Indian Navy for nearly 30 years, was decommissioned on Monday evening at a ceremony onboard.

The formal decommissioning function was presided over by Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, past and present officers from the Navy and Royal Navy, dignitaries and others, marking the culmination of several pre-decommissioning functions in the past few days.

Monday's ceremonies included the release of a special cover by Army Postal Service and a book on the history of INS Viraat, which was known as HMS Hermes during her tenure with Britain's Royal Navy, as per IANS.

The aircraft carrier, in its earlier avatar, had won the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982 for the Royal British Navy.

It served in the British Navy as HMS Hermes from November 1959 to April 1984 and after refurbishment, was commissioned into the Indian Navy.

In the late 80s, Indian Navy purchased it at the cost of USD 65 million and was re-commissioned on 12 May 1987.

On its last day in service today, the fate of the aircraft carrier remained unclear as to whether it will be converted into a luxury hotel or head to the scrapyard to be broken up.

"We would like to have Viraat as a museum or a diving spot in Mumbai," the Navy chief told reporters after the ceremony.

A senior Navy official told PTI that the Defence Ministry is yet to take a decision on a proposal from the Andhra Pradesh government to convert it into an entertainment hub in Visakhapatnam through a joint venture with the Centre.

The Navy is keen on an early decision to avoid INS Viraat meeting the same fate as its predecessor INS Vikrant, which eventually went to the scrapyard.

Over the AP government's proposal to convert the decommissioned Viraat into a maritime museum, Lanba said, "We will examine the proposal. But (on) financing it for the conversion, the decision will be taken by the defence ministry."

To a query on whether there was a proposal from two wheeler manufacturer Bajaj Auto, the navy chief said, "I have not heard of any such proposal."

The question was asked in the context of aircraft carrier INS Vikrant's parts used by Bajaj Auto for making its limited edition two wheeler, after decommissioning of that warship.

The Defence Ministry last wrote to all the coastal states to put forward proposals on INS Viraat, but only Andhra Pradesh proposed to convert it into an offshore luxury hotel and build a Marina along with an entertainment zone around it, a Navy official said. 

(With Agency inputs)

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