INS Viraat

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INS Viraat front view.jpg
INS Viraat (R22) in 2002
AcquiredMay 1987
Recommissioned12 May 1987[2]
Decommissioned6 March 2017
Out of service23 July 2016
RefitApril 1986, July 1999, Mid-2003-November 2004, August 2008-November 2009, November 2012-July 2013
HomeportMumbai, Maharashtra
IdentificationPennant number: R22
MottoJalameva Yasya, Balameva Tasya (Sanskrit: "He who rules over the seas is all powerful")
Nickname(s)Grand Old Lady[1]
FateScrapped at Alang, 2021.
Crest of INS Viraat
United Kingdom
NameHMS Hermes (R12)
Laid down21 June 1944
Launched16 February 1953
Commissioned25 November 1959
HomeportHMNB Portsmouth
IdentificationPennant number: R12
FateSold to India in 1986
General characteristics
Class and type Centaur-class light aircraft carrier
  • 23,900 tons standard
  • 28,700 tons full load
Length226.5 m (743 ft)
Beam48.78 m (160.0 ft)
Draught8.8 m (29 ft)
Propulsion2 × Parsons geared steam turbines; 4 boilers with 400 psi, 76,000 shp (57,000 kW)
Speed28 knots (52 km/h)
Range6,500 mi (10,500 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
  • Maximum 2,100;
  • 1,207 ship's crew,
  • 143 air crew
Sensors and
processing systems
  • 1 × BEL/Signaal RAWL 02 air radar
  • 1 × RAWS 08 air/surface radar
  • 2 × BEL Rashmi navigation radars
  • 1 × EL/M-2221 STGR fire control radar
  • 1 × Plessey Type 904 radar
  • 1 × FT 13-S/M Tacan system
  • Sonar:
  • 1 × Graseby Type 184M hull-mounted sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys
  • 1 × BEL Ajanta ESM
  • Decoy:
  • 2 × Knebworth Corvus chaff launchers
Aircraft carried

INS Viraat (Sanskrit: Virāṭa meaning Giant) was a Centaur-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. INS Viraat was the flagship of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013. The ship was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy's HMS Hermes, and decommissioned in 1984. It was sold to India in 1987. INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987,[2] and served for almost 30 years.

In February 2015, the Navy stated that Viraat would be decommissioned the following year.[3] The last British-built ship serving with the Indian Navy, she was the oldest aircraft carrier in service in the world. On 23 July 2016, Viraat sailed for the last time under her own power from Mumbai to Kochi, where she was dry-docked and prepared for decommissioning.[4] She was towed out of Kochi on 23 October, returning to Mumbai on 28 October, where she was laid up.[5] Viraat was formally decommissioned on 6 March 2017.[6] After the failure of plans to convert her into a hotel and museum, she was sold for scrap and planned to be broken up beginning in September 2020, but was put on hold by the Supreme court of India[7] after 40% of the body had already been scrapped [8]


INS Viraat had a 12° ski jump to operate the Sea Harrier along with a reinforced flight deck, and 1.2 inches (3 cm) of armour over the magazines and machinery spaces. The magazine capacity included at least 80 lightweight torpedoes. The vessel retained commando transport capability for up to 750 troops and carried four LCVP landing craft in the aft section.[9] In a wartime scenario, the ship could carry up to 26 combat aircraft and was suited for supporting amphibious operations and conducting ASW operations.


The aircraft on board INS Viraat 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 BAE Sea Harrier
INAS 552 The Braves INAS 552 insignia.jpg BAE Sea Harrier
INAS 321 Angels INAS 321 insignia.jpg Alouette III
HAL Chetak
INAS 330 Harpoons INAS 330 insignia.jpg Westland Sea King

Primary strike aircraft have been the Sea Harriers operating several modern missiles such as the British anti-ship Sea Eagle missile,[10] and the French Matra Magic missile for air-to-air combat.[11] Other ordnance has included 68 mm rockets, runway-denial bombs, cluster bombs, and podded 30 mm cannon.[11] In 2006, the Indian Navy started the 'Limited Upgrade Sea Harrier (LUSH)' program by upgrading up to 15 Sea Harriers in collaboration with Israel by installing the Elta EL/M-2032 radar and the Rafael 'Derby' medium-range air-to-air BVR missile.[12][13]

The fleet also consisted of Kamov Ka-31 Helix-B airborne early warning aircraft and Kamov Ka-28 Helix-A helicopters.

All Sea Harrier operations from the deck of INS Viraat ceased on 6 May 2016 following the retirement of Harrier fleet.

Operational history[edit]

Royal Navy[edit]

INS Viraat was originally commissioned by the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on 18 November 1959, 15 years after she was laid down in June 1944. She served as the flagship of the Royal Navy's task force during the Falklands War in 1982 and was decommissioned from active duty in 1985. In April 1986, Hermes was towed from Portsmouth Dockyard to Devonport Dockyard to be refitted, re-activated and sold to India.[14]

Indian Navy[edit]

After evaluating vessels from several countries, the Indian Navy purchased the vessel in April 1986 and gave her an extensive refit at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, England, to allow for continued carrier operations into the next decade.[15][16] New fire control equipment, navigation radars, improved NBC protection, and deck landing aids were installed in this refit. Boilers were converted to operate on distillate fuel.[17]

India Today in 1988 reported that then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi went to the Bangaram Atoll in Lakshadweep on a holiday with his family and other prominent politicians and media persons on board the INS Viraat.[18] The allegation has been refuted by a retired Indian Navy officer, Commodore Ajay Chitnis, who was involved in planning former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's 1987 Lakshadweep trip.[19]

In September 1993, the engine room of the ship was flooded, putting the vessel out of service for several months. The vessel was back in service in 1995 and was fitted with a new search radar. Between July 1999 and April 2001, the ship completed another life-extension refit expected to extend her serviceability until 2010. This refit upgraded propulsion systems, added a package of sensors to sound emergency alerts and introduced modern communication systems. In addition, a long-range surveillance radar, weapon systems, and a new hangar with fire curtains were installed.

The ship underwent a fourth refit in Indian service from January to August 2009 at Cochin Shipyard, Kochi.[20] The refit was expected to ensure her continued service in the Indian Navy until 2015, and the ship went through exercises in the Arabian Sea for a month and a half before being deployed to the Gulf of Aden.[21] Navy officers later reported that the carrier might be kept in service until 2020, as two Indigenous Aircraft Carriers (IACs) seemed likely to be fully operational by then.[22][23] On 12 July 2011, the ship arrived at Cochin shipyard for a short refit scheduled to be completed in two months and it was repainted. Indian Navy indicated that the ship could remain in service until 2020, provided that there are still Sea Harriers available for ship-borne operations.[24]

On 2 November 2012, the ship arrived in Kochi for the first part of a major two-phase refit. In the first phase, the hull was cleaned, probed for corrosion, worn hull plates were reinforced and received a fresh coat of corrosion-resistant paint.[25] The carrier sailed to Mumbai for further upgrades to her machinery before rejoining the fleet in the summer of 2013. The refit would enable her to serve through 2016 and was the final major refit before her decommissioning.[26] In August–September 2015, the ship underwent a short refit to reinforce her hull and inspection before her participation in the International Fleet Review in February 2016.[27]


By 2013, Viraat's age and cost of maintenance prompted the navy to begin the process to obtain Defence Ministry clearance for her decommissioning;[28] in December 2014, a review board was established to determine the ship's continued service life.[29]

In February 2015, the navy announced plans to decommission the ship in 2016 and began the process to obtain Defence Ministry clearance for the carrier's decommissioning.[3] On 23 July 2016, Viraat sailed from Mumbai to Kochi for the last time under her own steam; by then, she had spent a total of 2,250 days at sea and had steamed a total of 1,094,215 kilometers.[30] At Kochi, she underwent a month-long deactivation in preparation for decommissioning; during this period, her boilers, engines, propellers and rudders were removed.[4][31] Deactivation was completed on 4 September, and the carrier was towed back to Mumbai on 23 October for her formal decommissioning ceremony.[32][30] Viraat arrived in Mumbai on 28 October and was laid up.[5] On 6 March 2017, she was decommissioned.[6] Viraat was formally decommissioned on 6 March 2017.[6] Her weapons systems and operational equipment were to have been removed by mid-2017.

Preservation plans[edit]

In July 2015, it was announced that the ship would be transferred to the Government of Andhra Pradesh for conversion into a museum ship at a cost of 20 crore (US$3 million); Chandrababu Naidu, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, confirmed the plans on 8 February 2016.[33][34][35][36] By April 2016, however, the plans had apparently fallen through.[33][37] A British businessman's proposal to preserve the ship failed when its crowdfunding campaign failed to make a tenth of its goal and it was stated that if Viraat was not to be preserved, she would be scrapped.[38][39]

On 1 November 2018 the Maharashtra cabinet approved the conversion of Viraat into India's first moored maritime museum and marine adventure centre, to be located near Nivati, Sindhudurg district.[40][41] This proposal, which included a hotel, did not attract tenders because of high cost,[42] and the state government abandoned it in November 2019.[43]

After an expert committee determined Viraat 's structural deterioration made her preservation unviable, the union government decided to scrap her and held an online auction;[43][44] in July 2020, Gujarat-based shipping firm Shri Ram Shipping purchased the ship from the Metal Scrap Corporation for 38.54 crore (US$5 million).[44] She was scheduled be dismantled at Alang starting in September 2020.[45][46][47][48] On 19 September 2020, Viraat was towed from her berth at the Mumbai Naval Dockyard to the scrappers at Alang in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, reaching the port at Alang on the evening of 22 September.[44]

On 28 September, Viraat was beached at Alang. At the end of September, a private Mumbai-registered company, Envitech Marine Consultants Private Limited, offered to purchase the ship from Shree Ram Shipping and preserve her as a museum and tourist centre, to be provisionally berthed at Goa. The Goa state government gave its support provided the project was approved by the Ministry of Defence, the necessary clearances were obtained and the state would incur no financial obligations. Shree Ram Shipping offered to sell Viraat to Envitech for 100 crore (US$13 million), provided the firm receive the clearances and assume all cost and risk.[49] Discussions were in progress as of 1 October.[49]

On 10 Feb 2021 a Supreme Court hearing stayed the dismantling of the ship. The Court heard that Envitech proposed to purchase the ship for RS 100 cr and sought responses from Shree Ram Shipping and the Ministry of Defence.[50] On April 10, 2021, the Supreme Court informed counsel for Envitech that INS Viraat had already become private property of Shree Ram Group; who had testified that 40% of the ship had already been broken.[8]

There is a plan to have two of INS Viraat's anchors displayed at the Port Museum in Alappuzha, which is being developed.[51]


Commanding officers[edit]

S.No. Name Assumed office Left office
1 Captain Vinod Pasricha NM 12 May 1987 15 December 1988
2 Captain Madhvendra Singh 15 December 1988 30 August 1990
3 Captain Arun Prakash VrC VSM 30 August 1990 26 December 1991
4 Captain Madanjit Singh 26 December 1991 21 March 1993
5 Captain Yashwant Prasad 21 March 1993 28 September 1994
6 Captain J S Bedi VSM 28 September 1994 13 October 1995
7 Captain Vijay Shankar 13 October 1995 8 November 1996
8 Captain Nirmal Kumar Verma 8 November 1996 13 December 1997
9 Captain S K Damle NM VSM 13 December 1997 15 June 2000
10 Captain R F Contractor 15 June 2000 18 December 2001
11 Captain Devendra Kumar Joshi NM VSM 18 December 2001 7 January 2003
12 Captain Anil Chopra 7 January 2003 6 January 2004
13 Captain Pradeep Chauhan 6 January 2004 31 May 2005
14 Captain Surinder Pal Singh Cheema NM 6 January 2004 31 May 2005
15 Captain Girish Luthra 31 May 2005 1 August 2007
16 Captain Abhay Raghunath Karve 1 August 2007 27 December 2008
17 Captain Anil Kumar Chawla 27 December 2008 6 August 2010
18 Captain R. Hari Kumar 6 August 2010 15 November 2011
19 Captain Ajendra Bahadur Singh 15 November 2011 1 June 2013
20 Captain Biswajit Dasgupta 1 June 2013 1 June 2015
21 Captain Rajesh Pendharkar 1 June 2015 13 July 2016
22 Captain Puneet Chadha 13 July 2016 26 February 2017

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "INS Viraat sails to Kochi for repairs, dry-docking". The Economic Times. 24 July 2016. Archived from the original on 27 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Surface Ships". Indian Navy. Archived from the original on 4 October 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b Anandan, S (12 February 2015). "INS Viraat to be decommissioned in 2016". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b "INS Viraat's last journey". The Hindu. 23 July 2016. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b Deshpande, Vinaya (29 October 2016). "INS Viraat reaches Mumbai, set to be decommissioned in January". The Sunday Guardian Live. Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "INS Viraat bows out of service". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  7. ^ "INS Viraat's Dismantling Kept On Hold, Supreme Court Notice To Owner". Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  8. ^ a b "INS Viraat now private property: SC". Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  9. ^ Lee, Jae-Hyung (2003). China and the Asia-pacific Region: Geostrategic Relations and a Naval Dimension. iUniverse. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-595-26043-0.
  10. ^ Hiranandani 2000, p. 287.
  11. ^ a b Hiranandani 2012, p. 154.
  12. ^ "India's Sea Harrier Shortage". Defense Industry Daily. 2 November 2010. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  13. ^ Raghuvanshi, Vivek (16 April 2009). "Indian Sea Harrier Tests BVR Missile". Defense News. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017.
  14. ^ "One sailor dead, three injured after fire breaks out on Indian aircraft carrier". 7 March 2016. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  15. ^ Anthony, Ian (1990). The Naval Arms Trade. SIPRI. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-19-829137-4.
  16. ^ Ramchandani, Indu (2000). Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-0-85229-760-5.
  17. ^ Bishop, Chris; Chant, Christopher (2004). Aircraft Carriers. MBI Publishing Company LLC. ISBN 978-0-7603-2005-1.
  18. ^ Pratap, Anita (31 January 1988). "Idyllic vacation for the Gandhis in the Lakshadweep archipelago". India Today. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  19. ^ Rajiv Gandhi did not misuse INS Viraat: Navy officer who planned former PM's Lakshadweep trip
  20. ^ "INS Viraat out of dry dock, to sail to Gulf of Aden soon". DNA. 26 February 2011. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  21. ^ IANS (17 August 2009). "INS Viraat refit complete, gears up for golden jubilee". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  22. ^ "Naval Air: Where There Were None, Now There Is One". 20 August 2009. Archived from the original on 8 November 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  23. ^ Sharma, Ritu (17 August 2009). "INS Viraat refit complete, gears up for golden jubilee". Indo-Asian News Service. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  24. ^ "Navy to operate Viraat aircraft carrier for another decade". The Economic Times. 19 January 2011. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  25. ^ "INS Viraat arrives in Kochi for periodic refit". The Hindu. 3 November 2012. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  26. ^ "Major repairs for the INS Viraat, its replacement delayed again by Russia". NDTV. 8 March 2013. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  27. ^ "INS Viraat to have short refit". The Hindu. 24 July 2015. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  28. ^ "Navy plans nuke-powered carrier". The Telegraph (Calcutta). 12 March 2013. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  29. ^ "Navy technical board to assess service life of INS Viraat". ABP. 4 December 2014. Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  30. ^ a b "INS Viraat sails on final journey from Kochi to Mumbai for decommissioning". The New Indian Express. 23 October 2016. Archived from the original on 23 October 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  31. ^ "INS Viraat's last journey commences". Times of India. 23 July 2016. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  32. ^ "INS Viraat's final farewell set in Mumbai". The Hindu. 25 September 2016. Archived from the original on 25 September 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  33. ^ a b Sarma, C.H.R.S. (8 February 2016). "'INS Viraat' to be handed over to Andhra Pradesh after decommissioning". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  34. ^ "Indian carrier Viraat 'de-operationalised'". Janes. 11 February 2016. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  35. ^ "Indian Navy's aircraft carrier INS Viraat may be modified into a luxury hotel". Naval Technology. 11 February 2012. Archived from the original on 16 April 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  36. ^ "INS Viraat: A warship that will soon be converted into a hotel!". India Today. 11 February 2016. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  37. ^ "INS Viraat is up for grabs, but so far no takers". DNA. 2 May 2016. Archived from the original on 26 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  38. ^ "HMS Hermes repatriation".
  39. ^ "Tech entrepreneur wants to rescue Falklands' flagship HMS Hermes from the scrap heap". MercoPress. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  40. ^ Jain, Bhavika (2 November 2018). "INS Viraat to be turned into maritime museum". Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  41. ^ "INS Viraat to get 2nd life as maritime museum". The Asian Age. New Delhi. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  42. ^ Jain, Bhavika (12 July 2019). "Plans to turn INS Viraat into museum-hotel run aground". Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  43. ^ a b Rajput, Rashmi (19 December 2019). "As scrap, retired Naval aircraft carrier Viraat finds no takers". The Economic Times. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  44. ^ a b c "INS Viraat set for dismantling at Alang yard". The Hindu. 28 September 2020. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  45. ^ "Like India's 1st aircraft carrier, steel from scrapped Viraat may be used for bikes". The Week. 26 August 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  46. ^ "INS Viraat, decommissioned three years ago, to be dismantled at Alang in Gujarat". The Economic Times. 25 August 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  47. ^ "Iconic INS Viraat to be dismantled at Alang". Ahmedabad Mirror. 24 August 2020. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  48. ^ Nair, Avinash (24 August 2020). "INS Viraat to be broken at Alang and sold as scrap". The Indian Express. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  49. ^ a b Nair, Avinash (1 October 2020). "Rs 100 cr, multiple clearances required to save INS Viraat". The Indian Express. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  50. ^ "Supreme Court Stays Dismantling Of INS Viraat". Hindustan Times. 10 February 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  51. ^ "INS Viraat's anchor to be part of Port Museum?". Retrieved 27 June 2021.

External links[edit]