Goodbye, INS Viraat. Thank You For Over Five Decades Of Selfless Service.

Swarajya Staff

Oct 24, 2016, 04:45 PM | Updated 04:45 PM IST

Indian Naval aircraft carrier INS Viraat (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian Naval aircraft carrier INS Viraat (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

It was an emotional send-off for India’s INS Viraat yesterday (23 October) from Kochi, a port city with which it shares many fond memories – every time it needed repairs, it was brought here. It set sail for Mumbai on a final journey, where it will attend its decommissioning ceremony.

After having protected the seas independently over the last five decades, India’s chief warship now needs help and is being towed back to Mumbai with three tugs. Although this brings up mixed feelings for many, it is a signal of the ship’s impending end.

INS Viraat was born HMS Hermes in 1959, when it was commissioned into the Royal Navy. It served for 27 long years before joining the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987. Now, as its journey comes to a close, it ages 55, with distinctive achievements to boast about in its long tenure.

During its time under the Indian flag, it sailed nearly 2,250 days, covering over 10 lakh kilometres at sea. It served as the flag ship of Royal Navy’s task force during the Falkland Islands campaign. It also played a major role in Operation Jupiter in 1989 (Indian peace-keeping operations in Sri Lanka) and Operation Vijay in 1999 (Kargil conflict), as reported in India Today.

Only three years ago, in 2013, India’s second aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, took over the mantle of serving as the chief aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy from the Grand Old Lady, as INS Viraat is fondly called among the Naval community.

After its decommissioning at the end of this year, the Centaur-class aircraft carrier will likely be taken over by the Andhra Pradesh government, which has expressed interest in propping up the world’s oldest aircraft carrier in Vizag for promotion of its tourism.

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