INS Viraat, Navy’s ‘grand old lady’, to go under the hammer

Known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’, INS Viraat entered service with the Indian Navy in 1987 and was decommissioned in 2017 after spending spent nearly 2,250 days at sea, sailing 5,88,288 nautical miles.
INS Viraat was towed to Mumbai from Kochi in October.(HT File)
INS Viraat was towed to Mumbai from Kochi in October.(HT File)
Updated on Nov 15, 2019 06:28 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By, Mumbai

The decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat, which was consigned to being scrapped in July this year, will be up for auction on December 17 before it is sent to be scrapped. Those interested in owning a piece of Indian naval history will have to pay a pre-bid earnest money deposit of 5.30 crore. Originally commissioned as the HMS Hermes of the British Royal Navy in 1959, INS Viraat holds the Guinness record for being the oldest serving warship in the world.

Known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’, INS Viraat entered service with the Indian Navy in 1987 and was decommissioned in 2017 after spending spent nearly 2,250 days at sea, sailing 5,88,288 nautical miles. On December 17, an e-auction will be held between 12pm and 4pm by state-owned e-commerce company, Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited (MSTC).

The carrier is currently available for inspection at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai between 10.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 4.30pm till December 16 on working days and with prior intimation. Most of the equipment – including main machinery and its auxiliaries, propellers, weapons and sensors, communication, navigators, lifesaving equipment, motors and boats – has been removed or cannibalized.

Interested bidders can participate in the e-auction process by paying pre-bid earnest money deposit (EMD) of 5.30 crore. “There is no fixed price quoted for the iconic ship but we expect good bidding,” said a source privy to the development.

The decision to sell INS Viraat for scrap was announced in July this year, in Parliament. “Viraat could not be handed over to any state government because of non-receipt of a self-sustaining financially complete proposal. Thus, in view of considerations of safety, security etc, a decision to scrap INS Viraat has been taken in due consultation with Indian Navy,” said minister of state for defence Shripad Naik in a written reply, in the Rajya Sabha.

Among the states that had expressed interest in preserving INS Viraat was Maharashtra. In November 2018, the state government said it would spend approximately 852 crore on a public-private partnership basis to convert the decommissioned carrier into a maritime museum that would be docked off the coast of Sindhudurg, around 600km from Mumbai. However, there were no bids for the expression of interest. Andhra Pradesh had also submitted a proposal of 300 crore to preserve INS Viraat as a heritage vessel.

INS Viraat was deployed for peace-keeping operations off Sri Lanka and during the Kargil War in the 1990s. Aircraft like Sea Harriers, White Tigers, Seaking 42B, Seaking 42C and Chetak helicopters have operated from the warship. Under the Indian Navy, aircraft have clocked more than 22,034 hours of flying from INS Viraat’s decks.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Pratik Salunke is a principal correspondent of Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He has spent a past decade covering crime and transport in cities of Mumbai and Pune. He has been covering terrorism, financial frauds and crime stories.

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