The Indian Navy’s 56-year-old aircraft carrier, the INS Viraat, has embarked on its last voyage, to participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR) in the eastern city of Visakhapatnam from 5 to 8 February.
The vessel began her journey from the western state of Goa, carrying six Sea Harrier jump-jets, and six Sea King and four Chetak helicopters from Goa.
INS Viraat will be joined by the 44,570t INS Vikramaditya at the IFR.
A senior officer was quoted by the Times of India as saying: "This will be INS Viraat’s last journey, a cross-coast deployment signalling the end of her yeoman service for India before she is retired later this year. On her way back to Mumbai, she will call on all major Indian ports as a final salute."
The INS Viraat, weighing 28,000t, initially served the UK Royal Navy as HMS Hermes. She was acquired by the Indian Navy in May 1987, and re-christened as the INS Viraat.
Reffered to as ‘Mother’ in the Indian Navy, it is one of the three carriers based in the Indian Ocean.
The centaur-class aircraft carrier, measuring 226.5m in length is fitted with a 12° ski jump to launch the Sea Harrier, a reinforced flight deck, and 3cm of armour over the magazines and machinery spaces.
She is equipped with 80 lightweight torpedoes, Italian Selex (former ELMER) communication suites, CAAIS action data automation and Satcom systems.
According to reports, INS Viraat will be turned into a docked museum after being decommissioned.
Following the decommissioning of the aircraft carrier, the Indian Navy is expected to unveil the design of the first ever indigenously made aircraft carrier, weighing 65,000t, with the capacity to carry 50 aircraft.
Image: INS Viraat was bought by India in 1987. Photo: courtesy of Indian Navy.