The decommissioning of INS Viraat, the world’s longest-serving warship, marked the end of a glorious era in the history of the Indian Navy. This legendary aircraft carrier, which served both the Indian Navy and the British Royal Navy, has left an indelible mark on maritime history. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating journey of INS Viraat, from its humble beginnings to its final port of call. Join us as we explore the legacy of this iconic ship and pay tribute to its remarkable service.
Origins and Acquisition
INS Viraat, commissioned initially as HMS Hermes in November 1959, was part of the Centaur class of light fleet carriers in the British Royal Navy. The ship was decommissioned after serving in various capacities, including its pivotal role in the Falklands War in 1982. The Indian Navy, which was operating INS Vikrant then, decided to acquire Hermes and announced its purchase in 1985-86. The ship was put into service with the Indian Navy in May 1987 as INS Viraat after a major overhaul and update.
Service in the Indian Navy
INS Viraat played a crucial role in the Indian Navy for over three decades. The ship’s motto, “Jalamev Yashya, Balamev Tasya,” meaning “who controls the sea is the powerful,” perfectly encapsulates its significance. With a maximum speed of 28 knots, INS Viraat operated a fleet of Sea Harriers, Sea King helicopters, and other aircraft. The ship underwent several refits during its service, including complete overhauls and upgrades to enhance its capabilities.
INS Viraat participated in various military operations and joint exercises with foreign navies during its operational tenure. It proved instrumental in Operation Jupiter during the Sri Lankan peacekeeping operation in 1989 and played a significant role in Operation Parakram following the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001-02. The ship also contributed to honing the art of flying operations from a carrier deck, which greatly facilitated the seamless induction of INS Vikramaditya into the Indian Navy.
Guinness World Record and Notable Achievements
INS Viraat holds a prestigious place in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-serving warship in the world. The ship’s remarkable service record includes more than 22,622 flying hours by various aircraft and nearly 2,252 days at sea, covering a staggering 5,88,287 nautical miles or 10,94,215 kilometers. This equates to circumnavigating the globe 27 times, genuinely highlighting this magnificent vessel‘s extensive reach and endurance.
In addition to its impressive mileage, INS Viraat played a vital role in numerous international joint exercises, such as Exercise Malabar with the United States, Exercise Varuna with France, and Naseem-Al-Bahar with the Oman Navy. It also participated in theater-level activities and was the flagship of the Indian Navy throughout its service. The ship nurtured the careers of numerous naval officers, including five Chiefs of Naval Staff, and served as a training ground for future leaders.
Decommissioning and Legacy
With mounting operating costs and advancing age, the Indian Navy decided to decommission INS Viraat in early 2015. The decommissioning ceremony occurred on March 6, 2017, at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, marking the end of an era. Over 1,300 personnel who had served onboard INS Viraat attended the solemn yet grand event.
INS Viraat’s legacy will live on through its contribution to naval warfare and shaping the Indian Navy. Its service record, world record status, and invaluable experience operating an aircraft carrier have left an indelible mark on the Indian Navy’s capabilities. The baton has now been passed to INS Vikramaditya, the current flagship, and INS Vikrant, the indigenous aircraft carrier under construction, ensuring that the spirit of INS Viraat continues to sail through the Indian Navy’s future endeavors.
- The decommissioning of INS Viraat marked the end of an era in the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier operations.
- INS Viraat’s decommissioning ceremony was a solemn yet grand event attended by over 1,300 personnel.
- The ship’s world record as the longest-serving warship and its numerous achievements have cemented its place in maritime history.
- INS Viraat’s legacy will be carried forward by INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, ensuring the Indian Navy’s continued strength in aircraft carrier operations.
1. What is INS Viraat?
INS Viraat was a legendary aircraft carrier that served in the Indian Navy. It was commissioned in 1959 as HMS Hermes in the British Royal Navy and decommissioned in 2017.
2. What was the role of INS Viraat?
INS Viraat played a crucial role in the defense and projection of power for the Indian Navy. It was a versatile platform for launching and recovering various aircraft types, including fighter jets, helicopters, and surveillance planes.
3. How long did INS Viraat serve in the Indian Navy?
INS Viraat served in the Indian Navy for a remarkable 30 years, from 1987 to 2017. During its service, it participated in several military operations and exercises, symbolizing India’s naval prowess.
4. What were some notable achievements of INS Viraat?
INS Viraat had an illustrious career with several notable achievements. It was critical during Operation Jupiter in 1989 and Operation Parakram in 2001. It also served as a platform for humanitarian operations during the Tsunami relief efforts 2004.
5. Where is INS Viraat now?
After its decommissioning in 2017, INS Viraat was sold for scrap. It was towed to Alang, Gujarat, where it underwent dismantling. Although no longer sailing the seas, its legacy as a legendary aircraft carrier lives on in the annals of naval history.
INS Viraat, the legendary aircraft carrier, has left an indelible mark on the history of the Indian Navy. From its origins as HMS Hermes to its final port of call, the ship has served with distinction and contributed significantly to the nation’s maritime strength. INS Viraat’s remarkable service record, world record status, and the countless naval officers it groomed exemplify its enduring legacy. As we bid farewell to this iconic ship, we honor its memory and celebrate its invaluable contributions to the Indian Navy’s rich heritage.