INDIA. Mumbai. Indian Navy’s decommissioned Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat began its last journey from Indian Naval Dockyard in Mumbai to Alang, for dismantling, on Saturday.
A Navy helicopter circling overhead provided a majestic backdrop to Viraat’s last voyage from its home base in Mumbai.
When contacted, Commander Mehul Karnik, Defence Public Relations Officer (PRO) confirmed to Transcontinental Times that the vessel moved around noon and would reach Gujarat in two days because it is being towed at a very slow speed.
PRO Defence Mumbai tweeted a message about remembrance and commemorated the long life of the vessel.
The vessel will be dismantled in Alang, a beach town that houses the world’s biggest ship-breaking yard, by the Shree Ram Green Ship Recycling Industries of Gujarat. They won a 385.4 million INR (5,235,733.38 USD) bid for dismantling the ship at an auction conducted by the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited last month. It will be scrapped in nine to twelve months at Alang. Shree Ram Green Ship Recycling Industries of Gujarat has been certified as India’s first eco-friendly ship recycling yard.
Viraat commissioned in 1987
Viraat was bought by the Indian Navy in 1984 and was commissioned as INS Viraat in 1987 after rehabilitation. It served the Indian Navy for 30 years before it was decommissioned. Before serving the Indian Navy, it served in the UK’s Royal Navy as HMS Hermes from November 1959 to April 1984 (25 years) and participated in the Falkland Island War.
INS Viraat entered as the longest-serving (2252 days, 5.88 lakh nautical miles travel) warship in the Guinness Book of World Records. It played a major role in Operation Jupiter in 1989 during the Sri Lankan Peacekeeping operation. It also saw action during Op Parakram in 2001 and 2002, in response to the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.
It was decommissioned in March 2017 because the Navy decided that its upkeep costs were too high. It was also taking up space in the crowded Naval dockyard.
The 226 meter long and 49 meter wide Centaur class aircraft carrier had a 27,800 deadweight tonnage. There were multiple demands to not let INS Viraat get dismantled. INS Vikrant, India’s first carrier, was eventually scrapped a few years back and many people did not want to see the same happen to INS Viraat. There were proposals to convert INS Viraat into a museum or a restaurant from many states, but none of then fructified. As such, the decision to scrap INS Viraat was taken in 2019.