INS Viraat, the oldest and the longest serving aircraft carrier in the world, is set to leave Kochi by month-end, for retirement from her 28-year-long service in the Indian Navy.
Viraat has completed its final essential repairs and dry-docking at Cochin Shipyard Limited. The vessel’s journey from Mumbai to Kochi was its last sail under own propulsion.
On the return trip, the ship will be towed to Mumbai where a decommissioning ceremony will be held early next year. All equipment that would be useful for the Navy in future has been retrieved from the vessel.
With 57 years of service, of which nearly 30 years under the Indian Flag, Viraat holds the record for being the oldest serving warship in the world. Viraat, which has a glorious history of serving two countries, was originally commissioned in the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes in November 1959. She was purchased by India in 1986 and was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987. It is the last British-built ship serving the Indian Navy.
The motto of INS Viraat was ‘Jalameva Yasya, Balameva Tasya’ (translates to ‘He Who Rules Over the Seas is All Powerful’ in Sanskrit). It had been part of almost all the major operations of the Indian Navy such as Operation Jupiter, Operation Parakram, Sri Lankan Peace Keeping Operation and Operation Vijay. The ship has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea and travelled 5,88,288 NM (10,94,215 km).
The international joint exercises in which the ship participated include ‘Malabar’ with the US Navy, ‘Varuna’ with the French Navy, ‘Al Sabhar’ with the Oman Navy and the Theatre Level Operational Exercise (TROPEX). Viraat’s last operational deployment was in the International Fleet review (IFR) earlier this year.