INS Viraat, the world’s oldest and longest-serving aircraft carrier in active duty, will be decommissioned today after 29 years of service with the Indian Navy. The ship will be decommissioned in Mumbai, where 21 of its 22 former commanders are expected to be present. The ceremony is scheduled to take place at 5:45pm, and the ship will be scrapped if no buyers are found.
It was born HMS Hermes in 1959, when it was commissioned into the UK’s 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 56, 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 known among the naval community.
As a part of its last duty, INS Viraat was deployed at the International Fleet Review in Viskhakapatnam in February 2016. It was home to various aircraft and helicopters, including the recently decommissioned Sea Harriers and others such as White Tigers, Seaking 42B, Seaking 42C and Chetak helicopters.
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