INS Viraat on way to Mumbai from Kochi

Decommissioning ceremony

KOCHI: The world’s oldest aircraft carrier INS Viraat set sail to Mumbai on Sunday after a decommissioning refit. Navy officials gave her a grand send-off. After serving the Indian Navy and earlier the British Royal Navy (27 years) for 55 years, the aircraft carrier has been retired.

Three tugs have started towing the massive vessel to Mumbai for the decommissioning ceremony. Later INS Viraat will be handed over to the Andhra Pradesh government which wants to use the carrier for tourism promotion. 

Speaking to the media at the International Coastal Cleanup Day at RK Beach in Vizag last month, Vice-Admiral HCS Bisht, chief of Eastern Naval Command, said INS Viraat was likely to be decommissioned by the end of 2016 and brought to Vizag by the middle of 2017. After decommissioning, Indian Navy requires at least three to four months time to ‘destore’ the ship.

Bisht had said some places had been identified to berth Viraat on the Vizag coast and then it would be left to the AP government to undertake some work on the ship to make it suitable for a convention centre, museum and to add a few other attractions. However, before the ship is handed over to AP, there are certain clearances that needed to be secured from the Defence Ministry, he said.

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