INS Viraat’s last journey was completed at Alang Ship Breaking Yard in Gujarat. A programme, titled ‘Thank You Viraat’ honouring its 30 years of service to the nation, was held on Monday.
INS Viraat was the flagship vessel of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013. It was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987, and holds the record for being the world’s longest-serving warship.
Real Admiral Puruvir Das, who was the navigation officer for INS Viraat in 1996, told CNN News18, “There was so much for us to know and learn looking at the day and night activities on Viraat. It was immense of pride for us as nation. Commissioning warships is a constant development, with Viraat gone, we are readying one in Kochi."
On July 23, 2016, INS Viraat had sailed for the last time under its own power from Mumbai to Kochi where it was prepared for decommissioning. It was towed out of Kochi on October 23, returning to Mumbai on October 28, where it was laid up. Viraat was formally decommissioned on March 6, 2017.
Despite the demand from far and wide, a government set-up specialist committee could not work out a suitable option to save it as a heritage site or convert it into a museum.
Union Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told CNN News18, “We are aware of the public sentiments. That is one of the reasons we had set up a committee to examine the possibilities. It is neither financially viable no does the worship have any durability to last for more than 10-15 years. Hence, with a heavy heart we are bidding Viraat goodbye.”
It will be dismantled at the ship breaking yard in Alang and then sold as scrap by Shree Ram Group for a sum of Rs 38.54 crore.
Shree Ram Group chairman Mukesh Patel said, “After all the formalities are completed, subject to weather conditions and tide, we scheduling its beaching at our yard for dismantling during high tide on September 28, 2020. It presents a golden opportunity for us to be recycling this historical warship. However, we will ensure all the safety and security protocols are duly followed."
Viraat has groomed 40 flag officers, including five Chief of Naval Staffs. It was a moment of pure nostalgia as everyone bid this giant vessel aideu, for one last time.