Oldest in fleet, INS Viraat to be decommissioned on March 6 | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Oldest in fleet, INS Viraat to be decommissioned on March 6

Commissioned into the Royal Navy in November, 1959, as HMS Hermes, INS Viraat served the British for 27 years before being taken over by the Navy. Now it will be decommissioned on March 6

mumbai Updated: Feb 27, 2017 00:59 IST
Manish K Pathak
INS Viraat
INS Viraat sailed under her own power for the last time from Mumbai to Kochi in July 2016.(HT)

INS Viraat, the oldest serving aircraft carrier, will be decommissioned on March 6, marking the day as a feat of sorts in naval history.

She has served the Indian Navy for 29 years. She is the last of the Britist-built ship serving them. She has served a combined 56 years for the navy in two countries.

Commissioned into the Royal Navy in November, 1959, as HMS Hermes, she served the British for 27 years before being decommissioned in 1984. India then bought the vessel and rechristened it INS Viraat, to be commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987.

INS Viraat sailed under her own power for the last time from Mumbai to Kochi in July 2016. In October 2016, she was towed out of Kochi and returned to Mumbai, where she will be formally decommissioned on March 6.

Soon after commissioning, it saw active operations when it became part of Operation Jupiter in July 1989 as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka, after the Indo-Sri Lankan accord broke down. But it was not the first time that she had seen active operations. While with the Royal Navy, she had played a major role in the Falkland wars.

The last of operational duties for the ageing INS Viraat came when she was deployed in the International Fleet Review in Viskhakapatnam in February 2016. But then, the Navy had to decide on its fate, primarily due to the ever increasing operational costs involved to keep her battle ready.

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