The latest round of refit began in July.

INS Viraat, Indian Navy's sole operational aircraft carrier, has left Kochi after another round of routine refit that lasted about a month and a half at the Cochin Shipyard.

The flagship of the Navy, which is gearing up to take part in the President's Fleet Review in Mumbai, its homeport, in December, had its underwater surface and gears fully restored as part of the refit.

The carrier had received an all-inclusive life-enhancing refit and a major upgrade of its systems and equipment about two years ago.

Makeover for systems

The latest round of refit began in July and the ship was undocked in early September when it got over. As part of the Rs. 30-crore refit, the vessel's underwater surface received fresh layers of corrosion-resistant paint. Metal plating was done on the hull wherever thinning had occurred. Its propeller was also checked and all systems and hydraulics got a makeover.

At a media conference held in July here, the ship's commanding officer Captain R. Hari Kumar — since elevated to the rank of Rear Admiral — had said that the sole fleet air defence platform of the Navy would have a service life at least till 2018. “The carrier has a fair amount of life left,” he had said.

Commissioned into the Royal Navy of the U.K. as HMS Hermes on November 18, 1959, the Centaur-class vessel had been in the thick of action during the Falklands War in 1982.

It was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Viraat in 1987. In May next year, the ship will celebrate its silver jubilee of commissioning into the Indian Navy, when a get-together of all its previous commanding officers would be held.

The carrier got more teeth after its life-enhancing refit in 2009 with Barak surface-to-air-missiles besides latest electronic, communication and navigation systems. Alongside, the Sea Harrier jets operating from its deck also received a limited upgrade including advanced avionics and beyond-visual-range strike capability. The Sea King helicopters too received a fresh lease of life with the restoration programme.

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