Viraat cuts through the waves for one last time, to Alang

Gordian knot: INS Viraat en route for the Alang yard after plans to turn it into a museum failed.Special Arrangement  

The decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat on Saturday set sail on its last journey from the Mumbai harbour to the Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat where it will be dismantled. The iconic naval ship was sold off for scrap last month after all efforts to convert it into a museum failed.

In an e-auction conducted by Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Ltd. (MSTC), the aircraft carrier was purchased by Shree Ram Green Ship Recycling of Gujarat for Rs. 38 crore.

On Saturday, social media was abuzz with calls for last- minute efforts to save the carrier from being scrapped.

“Worth attempting a ‘last ditch’ effort. There are still a few days before the ship reaches Alang and acetylene torches start cutting,” said former Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd). There have been demands from various quarters not to let Viraat go the Vikrant way, India’s first carrier that was scrapped. However, none of the proposals put forward by various States fructified.

INS Viraat , a Centaur- class aircraft carrier weighing 27,800 tonnes, had served in the British Navy as HMS Hermes for 25 years from November 1959 to April 1984 and after refurbishment, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in May 1987. It had operated Harrier fighter jets and was decommissioned in March 2017.

Since it was decommissioned, the Navy had been incurring expenditure on the vessel’s upkeep and it also had been blocking space in the crowded Naval dockyard in Mumbai.