INS Vikrant (R11)

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"HMS Hercules (R49)" redirects here. For other ships of the same name, see HMS Hercules.
For the ship currently under construction, see INS Vikrant (2013).
INS Vikrant circa 1984 carrying a unique complement of Sea Harriers, Sea Hawks, Allouette & Sea King helicopters and Alize ASW.jpg
INS Vikrant in 1984
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Hercules
Builder: Vickers-Armstrong/Harland and Wolff
Laid down: 12 November 1943
Launched: 22 September 1945
Commissioned: Never commissioned
Renamed: INS Vikrant
Identification: Pennant number: R49
Fate: Laid up in March 1946; Sold to India in 1957
Name: INS Vikrant
Commissioned: 4 March 1961
Decommissioned: 31 January 1997
Identification: Pennant number: R11
Motto: Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah (Sanskrit: "I completely defeat those who dare to fight with me")
Fate: Acquired for scrap for 60 crore (US$8.9 million) in January 2014
Status: Scrapped
Badge: INS Vikrant.JPG
General characteristics
Type: Majestic-class light carrier
Displacement: 15,700 tons standard, 19,500 tons full load
Length: 192 m (629 ft 11 in) waterline, 213.3 m (700 ft) extreme
Beam: 24.4 m (80 ft 1 in) waterline, 39 m (127 ft 11 in) extreme
Draught: 7.3 m (23 ft 11 in)
Installed power: 4 Admiralty three-drum boilers, 30,000 kW (40,000 hp)
Propulsion: 2 Parsons geared steam turbines
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h)
Range: 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
  • 1,075 usual,
  • 1,340 wartime
Armament: 16 × 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns (later reduced to 8)
Aircraft carried:

INS Vikrant (Sanskrit: विक्रान्त, for courageous) was a Majestic-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy.[1] The ship was commissioned as HMS Hercules for the British Royal Navy during World War II, but construction was put on hold after the war's end, and she never entered British service. India purchased the incomplete carrier from the United Kingdom in 1957, and construction was completed in 1961. INS Vikrant was commissioned as the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy and played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade on East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.

The ship was decommissioned in January 1997 and from 1997 to 2012, she was preserved as a museum ship in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, until it was closed in 2012 due to safety concerns. In January 2014, the ship was sold through an online auction and was scrapped for metal.[2]


The ship was ordered as HMS Hercules by the Royal Navy and was laid down on 12 November 1943 by Vickers-Armstrong on the River Tyne.[3] She was launched on 22 September 1945 but with the end of World War II, her construction was suspended in May 1946.[4] In January 1957, she was purchased by India and was towed to Belfast to complete her construction and modifications by Harland and Wolff. A number of improvements to the original design were ordered by the Indian Navy, including an angled deck, steam catapults and a modified island.[5]

INS Vikrant, as seen from HMS Centaur in March 1962

The ship was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Vikrant by Vijayalakshmi Pandit, then Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom on 4 March 1961 in Belfast. The name Vikrant was derived from Sanskrit word vikrānta meaning "stepping beyond", "courageous" or "bold". Captain Pritam Singh became the first commanding officer of the carrier.[6] The ship's initial fleet consisted of British Hawker Sea Hawk fighter-bombers and French Alize anti-submarine aircraft. On 18 May 1961, the first jet landed on her deck piloted by Lieutenant Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani. She formally joined the Indian Navy's Fleet in Bombay on 3 November 1961, when she was received at Ballard Pier by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.


During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, Pakistan falsely claimed to have sunk the ship when it was actually in dry dock undergoing modifications.[7] In June 1970, she was at the Naval Dockyard for repairs due to a crack in a water drum of one of the boilers powering her steam catapult. Unable to procure a replacement drum from the United Kingdom due to an embargo, Admiral S M Nanda ordered the routing of steam from her forward machinery to the steam catapult to bypass the damaged boiler. This repair enabled her to launch the Sea Hawks and Alizé, although she lost some cruising power. In March 1971, she was put through trials to test the fix.[8]

Indo-Pak war of 1971[edit]

The ship returned to service in time to enter the combat against Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.[5]

INS Vikrant Sea Hawk squadron during the December 1971 Indo-Pakistan war

She was initially stationed off the Andaman & Nicobar Islands along with Leopard-class frigates INS Brahmaputra and INS Beas. The ship was redeployed towards Chittagong at the outbreak of hostilities. On 4 December 1971, the Sea Hawks launched from the ship struck shipping in the Chittagong and Cox's Bazar harbours, sinking or incapacitating most ships there. Later strikes targeted Khulna and Port of Mongla and continued until 10 December 1971 establishing a naval blockade in East Pakistan.[9] The Pakistan Navy deployed the submarine Ghazi to specifically target and sink the ship. However, the submarine sank off Visakhapatnam coast under mysterious circumstances and probably due to depth charge attacks by INS Rajput. The crew of INS Vikrant earned two Mahavir Chakra and 12 Vir Chakra gallantry medals for its part in the war.[10]

Later years[edit]

The ship was given an extensive refit, including new engines between 1979 and 1982. She underwent further upgrades between December 1982 and February 1983 to enable her to operate BAe Sea Harriers which replaced the existing Sea Hawk fleet. After the retirement of the Breguet Alizé in 1989, she received a "ski jump" for more efficient use of her Sea Harriers. She was formally decommissioned on 31 January 1997.[11]


An Alize anti-submarine aircraft takes off from INS Vikrant
A Sea King helicopter with INS Vikrant

The aircraft on board INS Vikrant were operated by four squadrons of the Naval air arm of the Indian Navy:

Air squadrons
Squadron Name Insignia Aircraft
INAS 300 White Tigers INAS 300 insignia.jpg Hawker Sea Hawk
BAE Sea Harrier
INAS 310 Cobras INAS 310 insignia.jpg Breguet Alizé
INAS 321 Angels INAS 321 insignia.jpg Alouette III
HAL Chetak
INAS 330 Harpoons INAS 330 insignia.jpg Westland Sea King

Museum ship[edit]

INS Vikrant preserved as a museum ship in Mumbai with aircraft visible on the flight deck

Following the decommissioning in 1997, the ship was marked for preservation as a museum ship in Mumbai. Lack of funding prevented progress on the ship's conversion to a museum and was speculated that the ship would be made into a training ship.[12][13] In 2001, the ship was made open to the public by the Indian Navy but the Government of Maharashtra was unable to find a partner to operate the museum on a permanent, long-term basis and in 2012, the museum was closed after it was deemed unsafe for public.[2][14]


In August 2013, Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, chief of the Western Naval Command, said the Ministry of Defence would scrap the ship as she had become very difficult to maintain and no private bidders had offered to fund the museum's operations.[15] On 3 December 2013, the Indian government decided to auction the ship.[16] The Bombay High Court dismissed a public-interest litigation filed by Kiran Paigankar to stop the auction, stating the vessel's dilapidated condition did not warrant her preservation, nor were the necessary funds or government support available.[17][18]

In January 2014, the ship was sold through an online auction to a Darukhana ship-breaker for 60 crore (US$8.9 million).[19][20][21] Supreme Court of India dismissed another litigation challenging the ship's sale and scrapping on 14 August 2014.[22] Vikrant remained beached off Darukhana in Mumbai Port while awaiting the final clearances of the Mumbai Port Trust. On 12 November 2014, the Supreme Court gave its final approval for the carrier to be scrapped and the scrapping commenced on 22 November 2014.[23]

In February 2016, Indian auto manufacturer Bajaj unveiled a new bike made with metal from Vikrant's scrap and named it Bajaj V in honor of Vikrant.[24][25]

In popular culture[edit]

The decommissioned ship while it was moored near Darukhana in Mumbai featured prominently in the film ABCD 2 as a backdrop.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barua, Pradeep. The State of War in South Asia. Nebraska Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-8032-1344-9. 
  2. ^ a b Sunavala, Nargish (4 February 2006). "Not museum but scrapyard for INS Vikrant". Times of India. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Dodds, Klaus (2002). Pink ice: Britain and the South Atlantic Empire. I.B.Tauris. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-86064-769-7. 
  4. ^ "HMS Hercules". Fleet Air Arm Archive. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Richard Jones, Chris Bishop, Chris Chant, Christopher Chant. Aircraft Carriers: The World's Greatest Naval Vessels and Their Aircraft. MBI Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7603-2005-1. 
  6. ^ Aircraft Carrier. "INS Vikrant - Bharat Rakshak :: Indian Navy". Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "R11 Vikrant". Global Security. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Hiranandani, G.M. "The Evolution of the Navy's Plan of Operations". Transition to Triumph. Spantech and Lancer. ISBN 978-1-897829-72-1. 
  9. ^ Roy, Mihir K. (1995). War in the Indian Ocean. Lancer Publishers. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-897829-11-0. 
  10. ^ Till, Geoffrey (2003). Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty-first Century. Routledge. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-136-25555-7. 
  11. ^ Tembhekar, Chittaranjan (14 April 2010). "No takers for INS Vikrant's museum plan". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Sanjai, P R (14 March 2006). "INS Vikrant will now be made training school". Business Standard. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  13. ^ "R 11 Vikrant". Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Warship INS Vikrant heads for Alang death". Times of India. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  15. ^ Naik, Yogesh (10 August 2013). "Vikrant museum to be scrapped as Navy readies new carrier". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  16. ^ "Govt to auction decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Vikrant". First Post India. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  17. ^ Sunavala, Nargish (3 February 2014). "Not museum but scrapyard for INS Vikrant". Times of India. Retrieved 4 February 2006. 
  18. ^ "Crushing museum dreams, court says INS Vikrant must be scrapped". Mumbai Mirror. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "Dismantling Vikrant begins". Indian Express. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  20. ^ "INS Vikrant, India's first aircraft carrier, sold to ship-breaker for Rs 60 crore". The Economic Times. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Not museum but scrapyard for warship Vikrant". Times of India. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  22. ^ "Activists move Supreme Court over Sale of INS Vikrant to Ship Breaker". Bihar Prabha. 14 August 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "India's first aircraft carrier slips into history". Times of India. 22 November 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  24. ^ "Bajaj V – A bike made of INS Vikrant's metal – Launching on February 1". The Financial Express. 26 January 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Bajaj V: A Bike Made with INS Vikrant's Scrap unveiled". eHot News. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  26. ^ "Varun poses before INS Vikrant". Bollywood Bazaar. Retrieved 15 May 2016.