INS Viraat likely to converted into docked museum

INS Viraat, the oldest active aircraft carrier in the world, is likely to be converted into a docked museum when the ship decommissions next year.

New Delhi: INS Viraat, the oldest active aircraft carrier in the world, is likely to be converted into a docked museum when the ship decommissions next year.

Defence Secretary will soon write to all the maritime states in the country eliciting a response to the proposal to convert the ship, which has completed over 50 years of service, into a museum.

Defence sources said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has already approached the Defence Ministry showing his government's keenness in taking over the ship and turning it into a museum.

Following a letter from the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, the Ministry has sought Navy's response. The Navy is backing the proposal to convert the ship into a museum.

The ship had first served the British Navy for over 30 years before being bought by India. It was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987 after undergoing extensive refits.

Viraat, which also saw action in the Falklands War and was India's sole carrier for over a decade, will attend the International Fleet Review at Visakhapatnam in February 2016 before being decommissioned.

The sources said Navy is even willing to handover old aircraft to be put on the deck, if there is a need, to make it a first-class museum.

The Navy has learnt its lesson well after India's first carrier Vikrant, which was turned into a maritime museum post-retirement in 1997, was broken up after its upkeep became very expensive.

The move had led to widespread condemnation and many veterans and military historians had expressed their concern.

"It is not easy to maintain an aircraft carrier even if it is not in use. If we calculate the salaries of personnel involved in the process and other expenditures, it will come to around Rs 100 crore annually," the sources said.

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