In the late 80’s when India was re-transforming herself to compete with the global power it was important for us to strengthen our defense forces. The army was given prime importance however the nation knew that it was also important for the country to protect itself from the sky and the water which lead to buying a beast to guard our oceans.

Today this beast would be decommissioned from Indian Navy after serving the nation for 30 years. INS Viraat, the second aircraft carrier in the Indian naval fleet which was earlier with in the Royal Navy of United Kingdom. The aircraft carrier was known as HMS Hermes, the ship was in the Royal Navy from 1959. In the late 80s, Indian Navy purchased it at the cost of $65 million and was re-commissioned on 12 May, 1987. INS Viraat is apparently the world’s oldest surviving aircraft carrier with 56 years of service on Ocean guarding the land from the enemies. She started off to sail on her own from Mumbai to Kochi on 23rd July 2016 She was towed out of Kochi on 23 October, returning to Mumbai on 28 October, where she was laid up her formal decommissioning is scheduled for 6 March 2017.

INS Viraat has a standard displacement of 23,900 tons and a full load displacement of 28,700 tons. The total length of the warship is 226.5 meters and the breadth is 48.78 meters. The ship is manned by 150 officers and 1500 sailors.

This legendary machine which guarded mother India under the Indian flag has sailed about 2,250 days, covering over 10 lakh kilometres at sea. INS Viraat was the legend of Indian oceans, its strategically deployment during Operation Vijay in 1999 to capture Tiger hills from Pakistan can never be forgotten. The aircraft that flew from INS Viraat had destroyed many key locations Pakistan had occupied. The achievements of INS Viraat cannot be documents in just one article, I can go on writing about this Machine which did its best to protect mother India when required. INS Viraat involved in her first major operation- ‘Operation Jupiter’ in July 1989 as a part of Indian Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka in the wake of the breakdown of the Indo- Sri Lankan Accord of 1986. On 27th July 1989, the ship mounted 76 helo sorties off Kochi to embark over 350 army personnel and over 35 tons of stores of 7 Garhwal Rifles. Over the next few weeks, Viraat and her task group remained deployed at a measured distance from the war zone, utilizing the time to train soldiers, which adequately demonstrated the ship’s operational versatility.

She also played a pivotal role in Operation Parakram followed after the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament in 2013. The Ship also played a key role in Operation Vijay by creating blockade against Pakistan during Kargil War in 1999.  The ship has also participated in various international joint exercises like Malabar (with US Navy), Varuna (with French Navy), Naseem-Al-Bahr (with Oman Navy) and has been an integral element of annual Theater Level Operational Exercise (TROPEX). The last operational deployment of the ship was the participation in International Fleet Review (IFR-2016) at Vishakhapatanam on February, 2016. Prince Charles was the first pilot who took off from HMS Hermes now known as INS Viraat and as a mark of Tribute to this pilot INS Viraat still has a room named after the Pilot.

The ship regularly organizes blood donation camps, medical camps and visits onboard for school children. In addition, the ship has adopted three destitute children from different parts of the country and looks after their welfare. Naval personnel working in INS Viraat will contribute money for that. A Mumbai based charitable society will take care of these three children after the decommissioning of the ship. This man made Machine will always remain close to the heart of every Indian. She will never be forgotten for all that she did. INS Viraat will be a man’s marvel a Machine which was born to save lives of Humans. May Her bravery and contribution to mother India be told and documented. Good Bye To The Beast Of Indian Oceans.


Tasleem Ibrahim