World's Oldest Aircraft Carrier Decommissioned

(Photo: Indian Navy)

By Aiswarya Lakshmi

INS Viraat, the world's oldest aircraft carrier and
the flag ship of the Indian Navy, was decommissioned on Monday
after serving for 30 years in the Indian Navy.

INS Viraat holds the world record as mentioned in the Guinness
Book of records for being the longest serving warship of the

INS Viraat, the second Centaur-Class aircraft carrier in service
which has spent 30 years in the Indian Navy and 27 years in the
Royal Navy, was decommissioned on the day, in a solemn yet grand
ceremony at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai. The decommissioning ceremony
was attended by more than 1300 personnel who have served on board
INS Viraat.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, KCB, ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of
Naval Staff of Royal Navy, Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha, PVSM,
AVSM, NM the commissioning Commanding Officer of INS Viraat were
the guests of honour, while Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC,
Chief of the Naval Staff, was the Chief Guest for the ceremony.

To commemorate "30 years of Glorious Service to the Nation" by
INS Viraat, a Special Postal Cover was released by the Chief
Guest on the occasion.

The ship which was the centerpiece of the Navy, housed the
fighters Sea Harriers of INAS 300, popularly called "White
Tigers", Anti Submarine aircraft Sea king Mk 42B - also known as
"Harpoons" , Sea King Mk 42 C and the SAR helicopter Chetak as an
integral flight.

The indigenous Advance Light Helicopters 'Dhruv' and the Russian
twin rotor Kamov-31 have also operated from the ship. The Sea
Harrier fleet was decommissioned at Goa on 11 May 2016.

Under the Indian Flag, the ship has clocked more than 22,622
flying hours by various aircraft in the past three decades and
has spent nearly 2252 days at sea sailing across 5,88,287
nautical miles (10,94,215 KM).

This implies that Viraat has spent seven years at sea,
circumnavigating the globe 27 times. Since her inception, she has
had a total of 80,715 hours of boilers running.

Viraat played a major role in Operation Jupiter in 1989 during
the Sri Lankan Peacekeeping operation, after which she was
affiliated with the Garhwal Rifles and Scouts of the Indian Army
in 1990. She also saw action during Op Parakram in 2001-2002,
post the terrorist attack on Parliament.

The ship was instrumental in honing the art of flying operations
from a carrier deck in the Navy, which also resulted in seamless
induction of INS Vikramaditya and its integration with the fleet.

The ship has participated in various international joint
exercises like Exercise Malabar (USA), Exercise Varuna (French),
Naseem-Al-Bahar (Oman Navy). She has also been an integral
element of all annual theater level exercises (TROPEX). The last
operational deployment of Viraat was for the International Fleet
Review (IFR 2016), Vishakhapatnam in February 2016.

'Mother', as she was fondly referred to in the Navy, had been
commanded by 22 Captains since 1987. She was the Flagship of the
Navy since her inception. Around 40 Flag officers including five
Chiefs of Naval Staff were raised and groomed in her lap. Her
legacy under the Royal flag was no less.

As HMS Hermes, she was commanded by 13 Captains of the Royal
Navy. Her role in Operation Mercy in 1974 and the Falklands War
in 1982 are now textbook references for future navies.

Mar 7, 2017

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