Warrior ship Viraat left in the lurch
The great historic warship INS Viraat, which was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1987, ran on her own steam for one last time last week. But as she remains berthed at the Cochin Shipyard, her future looks uncertain. Just a few months ago, she was promised of a grand future befitting a heritage ship, which has served in many a war in the British Royal Navy and then the Indian Navy. But sources in the Ministry of Defence told The Sunday Guardian that the Andhra Pradesh government’s proposal on docking the ship on its coast is still pending with the Centre, as the state has failed to give any firm proposal about the plan.
“We have not yet received any firm proposal from Andhra Pradesh, where they have said that they are willing to foot the bills to host the ship. They have suggested that they want some help from the Centre. Their proposal is still pending with the Centre,” a highly placed official told this correspondent.
It can be recollected that the Centre had announced transfer of the ownership of vessel at the cost of Re 1. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that the Centre would transfer the ownership rights to a state government and not to any private interests. But the real question is the maintenance of the vessel. Naval officials told The Sunday Guardian that the state which buys the vessel will have to invest crores in maintaining her and keeping her afloat. Viable and profitable commercial ventures can be easily planned around her, but with an understanding that the return on investment will take a few years.
“She is still some time away from decommissioning. She is currently docked at the Co- chin Shipyard for Essential Repairs and Dry Docking. Now, the Ministry of Defence has to give approval for decommissioning. The reserve price of the ship will have to be decided by an expert committee. That price will have to be approved by the MoD. It is after this process that the ship can be decommissioned,” a senior serving officer of the Indian Navy said.
He said that usually, the ship which is decommis-
INS Viraat leaves Mumbai harbour for one last time.