Indian Navy Decommissions INS Viraat on 6 March 2017
Force Magazine - National Security and Aerospace Newsmagazine
Indian Navy Decommissions INS Viraat on 6 March 2017
INS Viraat

On March 6, a glorious era of Viraat being the flagship of the Indian Navy ended. 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 in a grand ceremony at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai. The decommissioning ceremony was attended by personnel who have served on board INS Viraat in the past, and also included some of the officers and men from the United Kingdom.

The aircraft carrier was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987. The motto in Sanskrit of INS Viraat - Jalamev Yasya, Balmev Tasya (one who controls the sea is all powerful) - is truly reflective of the role that she discharged to further the nation’s maritime goals. The crest of Viraat shows an eagle which symbolises air power and the five arrows held in the talons of the eagle depict the ship’s versatile weapon capability.

The ship holds the Guinness Book of World Record for being the longest serving warship of the world. It has been the centrepiece of the navy, housed the fighters Sea Harriers of INAS 300 popularly called ‘White Tigers’, anti-submarine aircraft Sea king Mk 42B, Sea King Mk 42 C known as ‘Harpoons’ and the SAR helicopter Chetak as an integral flight. The indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv and the Russian twin rotor Kamov-31 have also operated on-board the ship. The Sea Harriers fleet was decommissioned at Goa on 11 May 2016.

Under the Indian Flag, the ship clocked more than 22,622 flying hours by various aircraft in the past three decades and has spent nearly 2252 days at sea sailing and 5,88,287 NM (10,94,215 KM). This implies Viraat has spent seven years at sea, covering the entire globe 27 times. Since her inception she has a total of 80,715 hours of boiler running. She had played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 in Sri Lankan Peace Keeping operation, after which she was affiliated with Garhwal Riffles and Scouts of the Indian Army in 1990. Her major participation was seen during Op Parakram in 2001-2002 where India and Pakistan were engaged in a stand-off post terrorist attack on the 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 the annual theatre level exercise (TROPEX). The last operational deployment of Viraat was for participation in International Fleet Review (IFR 2016) off Vishakhapatnam in February 2016.

‘Mother’, as she is referred to in the Western Navy, has been commanded by 22 Captains since 1987. She has been 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 Falklands in 1982 are now textbook references for victory, for future navies.

INS Viraat


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