INS Viraat, Indian Navy's Oldest Aircraft Carrier, Retires Today

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 20:00 IST

The decommissioning ceremony will be attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other dignitaries.

INS Viraat, Indian Navy's Oldest Aircraft Carrier, Retires Today
INS Viraat holds the Guinness Record for the oldest carrier in service. (picture tweeted by @indiannavy)

INS Viraat, the Indian Navy’s olderst aircraft carrier in active service, will be decommissioned today after nearly six decades in service. The aircraft carrier holds the Guinness Record for the oldest carrier in service and was inducted on May 12, 1987.

The decommissioning ceremony will be attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other dignitaries. The event will see the lowering and wrap-up of the naval flag installed on the warship at sunset.

INS Viraat was originally commissioned by the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on 18 November 1959, 15 years after she was laid down in June 1944. She served as the flagship of the Royal Navy's task force during the Falkland Islands campaign in 1982 and was decommissioned from active duty in 1985. In April 1986, Hermes was towed from Portsmouth Dockyard to Devonport Dockyard to be refitted, re-activated and sold to India.

The government of Andhra Pradesh has expressed interest in the aircraft carrier and is willing to convert the old ship into a museum. However, the ship is likely headed to Alang in Gujarat, where she will be scrapped.

INS Viraat played a major role in Operation Jupiter in 1989 in Sri Lankan Peace Keeping operations, Operation Parakram in 2001-2002 when India and Pakistan were in stand-off, post-terror strikes on Indian Parliament, among others.

At present, INS Vikramaditya is the only serving aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy.