INS Vi­raat sails on her own steam for one last time


The air­craft car­rier, INS Vi­raat, set sail for Kochi on July 23 for es­sen­tial re­pairs and dry dock­ing (ERDD) at the Cochin Ship­yard. This is the last sail­ing un­der her own propul­sion as INS Vi­raat is slated for de­com­mis­sion­ing later this year. Vice Ad­mi­ral Girish Luthra, Flag Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing-in-Chief West­ern Naval Com­mand, and other se­nior of­fi­cers of the com­mand, vis­ited the ship and in­ter­acted with the crew prior to her de­par­ture.

The car­rier was es­corted out of har­bour by fast in­ter­cep­tor craft and he­li­copters from the West­ern Naval Com­mand. It was in­deed an emo­tional mo­ment for the Navy, as INS Vi­raat leaves Naval Dock­yard Mum­bai, for ‘one last time’ un­der own power. The ship will be towed back to Mum­bai on com­ple­tion of ERDD, for the de­com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony later this year.

INS Vi­raat was com­mis­sioned into the In­dian Navy on May 12, 1987. The ship op­er­ated Sea Har­rier (White Tigers, fighter air crafts), Sea King 42B (Har­poons, anti-sub­ma­rine he­li­copters) and Sea King 42C (com­mando car­rier he­li­copters) and Chetak (An­gles - SAR he­li­copter) as her main air el­e­ments. The Sea Har­rier fleet was also re­cently de­com­mis­sioned at Goa in May 16.

Un­der the In­dian flag, var­i­ous air­craft have flown more than 22,034 hours from the decks of INS Vi­raat. She has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea sail­ing 5,88,288 nm (10, 94,215 km). This im­plies that Vi­raat has been at sea for over six years cov­er­ing the en­tire globe about 27 times. She played a ma­jor role in the Op­er­a­tion Jupiter in 1989 (In­dian Peace Keep­ing op­er­a­tions in Sri Lanka) and Op­er­a­tion Vi­jay in the year 1999 (Kargil war). The ship has also par­tic­i­pated in var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional joint ex­er­cises like Mal­abar (with US Navy), Varuna (with French Navy), Naseem-Al-Ba­har (with Oman Navy) and has been an in­te­gral el­e­ment of all ma­jor naval ex­er­cises. The last op­er­a­tional de­ploy­ment of the ship was for par­tic­i­pa­tion in the In­ter­na­tional Fleet Re­view (IFR-2016) at Visakha­p­at­nam. Hav­ing served the coun­try and the Navy for nearly three decades, INS Vi­raat handed over the man­tle of car­rier op­er­a­tions to INS Vikra­ma­ditya which was com­mis­sioned in the year 2013.

The sec­ond air­craft car­rier of the coun­try has spent 29 years un­der the In­dian flag and 27 years with the Royal Navy (United King­dom). The ship holds the Guin­ness record for be­ing the oldest serv­ing war­ship. INS Vi­raat is a Cen­taur class air­craft car­rier and served in the Royal Navy as HMS Her­mes, which was the flag ship of Royal Navy dur­ing the Falk­lands cam­paign of 1982. She is com­monly re­ferred to as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ among the naval com­mu­nity.

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