De-Commissioned Aircraft Carrier Viraat finds no Takers

BY Tiya Chatterji 20.DEC.2019

Retired Indian Naval Ship (INS) Viraat remained unsold at a recent e-auction. The e-auction was followed by the Navy’s decision to sell the oldest aircraft carrier as scrap and plans to convert the iconic ship into maritime museum-cum-marine adventure centre, but could not find any takers.

Originally commissioned into the British Royal Navy as 'HMS Hermes' in 1959, she joined the Indian Navy in 1987 and was rechristened as 'INS Viraat' and after a distinguished service of nearly three decades to the country, she was finally decommissioned in 2017. She is hailed as the 'Grand Old Lady' who lorded over the high seas, she spent around 2,250 days at sea, sailing more than 588,280 nautical miles or 1.08 million km, before she was gracefully retired and decommissioned.

The Maharashtra government, last November cleared a proposal to convert the longest-serving aircraft carrier into a commercial business complex. According to the proposal submitted by the state government to the Union Defense Ministry, the planned Viraat museum would be constructed by laying a concrete foundation in the sea and the location would be around seven nautical miles from the shore at Nivti rocks in Sindhudurg district.

“Since the ship remained unsold as the bids were not on the expected rates, fresh e-auction will be conducted again,” said an official privy to the developments. Interested bidders were required to pay a pre-bid earnest money deposit of Rs 5.30 crore. The e-auction commenced at noon, continued till late evening before being called off.