MUMBAI: The World's oldest Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat's era of flagship has come to an end ,it will be decommissioned by next Monday on 6th March after 57 years of service, including 27 with the Royal Navy.The warship has had a glorious history of service in defense of the country.
As the ship is being decommissioned, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, one an executive officer of the ship in 1998, will be present for the monotonous occasion, along with some officers and men from India and the United Kingdom who served with her, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief,Western Naval Command, Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra,said while addressing the media.
The Indian Navy has said that the INS Viraat was value for money during its service.
Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra said,"INS Viraat was purchased in 1987 for USD 465 million.It has been value for money,while acquiring planned to use it for only 5 years but went on to use it for 30 years."
On March 6, the Naval Ensign and Commissioning Pendent will be lowered for the last time on board INS Viraat, honoring the end of her glorious era in Indian naval history.
At noon,the ceremonies of the Guinness Record holder warship shall be commemorated by releasing a book on her history, and a special Cover by Army Postal Service, Vice-Admiral Luthra said.
Talks about converting the warship into a memorial floating museum is doing the rounds, the central government was examining various aspects and proposals and would convey about it to the Indian Navy soon,' he added.
The Andhra Pradesh government has formally evinced interest in making the INS Viraat a museum, though similar plans for the erstwhile Vikrant had failed.
"We were kee to retain(INS) Vikrant (as a museum), but it did not materialize," Vice-Admiral Luthra said, referring to the country's first aircraft carrier, which ended up in the scrap yard in Mumbai.
Presently. INS Vikramaditya is the only serving aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy and the second one, named Vikrant, is under construction at Coachin Shiptard Ltd.
"We expected that she will be ready for sea trail by the end of 2018.Ideally, we should have three aircraft carriers and a long-term perspective plan looks at three such warship.. While one can be deployed on the western seaboard, and third can be taken up for refits," he pointed.
However, after the third aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya and the under construction Vikrant, concept studios have been completed and deliberations on size are underway, Vice-Admiral Luthra said.
After all the moto for the outgoing warship, INS Viraat was' Jalam Yasya, Balmwv Tasya' (Sanskrit, meaning- One Who Controls the Sea is All Powerful), which was first adopted by the great warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the 17th century as the guiding principal of his naval-military strategy.
It housed the fighters 'White Tigers'- the Sea Harriers of INAS 300, which were decommissioned in Goa in May 2016, anti-submarine aircraft Sea King MK42B, Sea King MK42C or 'Harpoons', SAR helicopter Chetan, besides ALH 'Dhruv' and Russian twin rotor Kamov-31.
Under the Indian flag, she clocked more than 22,622 flying hours by various aircraft, spent around 2,252 days at sea sailing 10,94,215 km, and since her inception her boiler was running for 80,715 hours.
The INS Vraat has played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 in Sri Lanka Peace Keeping operations, Operation Parakram in 2001-2002 when India and Pakistan were in a stand-off, post-terror strikes on the parliament, among the others.
Also, served in various international joint exercises like Exercise Makabae (USA), Exercise Varun (France), Naseem-Al-Bahar (Oman), at all the annual theatre-level war exercise, TROPEX and her last operational deployment was the International Fleet Review, Visakhapatnam, February 2016.
With a full load displacement of 28,700 tonnes, the 226.5 meters long and 48.78 meters wide ship was manned by 150 officers and 1,500 sailors.