After 30 years of yeoman service to the nation, the Indian navy's aircraft carrier INS Viraat was finally decommissioned at sunset on 6th March.
In a symbolic official ceremony, the naval pennant and ensign was lowered from Viraat. 22 commanding officers who have steered Viraat in the past were present along with Indian naval chief, Admiral Sunil Lamba and Royal Navy First Sea Lord Admiral Philip Jones.
INS Viraat was finally decommissioned on 6th March. The Centaur class aircraft carrier has spent a total of 57 years on the high seas. She was first inducted into the British Royal Navy on 18 November 1959 as HMS Hernes. In 1980, the Indian navy acquired Viraat at a cost of six crore dollars and inducted her on 12 May 1987. The navy now plans to wait for four months for a suitable buyer for the carrier, failing which she will be sent in for dismantling.
An entire township was created on board Viraat. This included a library, gym, ATM, TV and video studios, hospital, dental clinic and a distillation plant. The Royal Navy's first sea lords and former handlers of the HMS Hernes were present at the decommissioning on Monday.
The defence ministry plans to turn Viraat into a museum after it is decommissioned. However, apart from Andhra Pradesh, no other state has responded favourably to this suggestion yet.