INS Viraat's swansong voyage to Kochi

INS Viraat

Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-07-23 19:22 INS Viraat leave ​s​ Mumbai ​for Kochi for ​her swansong voyage. Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command and other senior officers of the command, visited the ship and interacted with the crew prior to her departure. Mumbai: India's magnificent second aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, which in its previous avatar led the British task force that retook the Falkland Islands in 1982, lifted anchor on Saturday afternoon for her final voyage to Kochi, powered by her own boilers, prior to her scheduled de-commissioning. The ageing 750-foot long 'giant' - as the name signifies - served the Indian Navy with distinction for almost three decades. It is expected to reach the Southern Naval Command base on Wednesday for the pre-decommissioning preparations, official sources said here. Vice Chairman Girish Luthra and other senior officials of Western Naval Command were present at the emotional ceremony as INS Viraat was escorted by fast interceptor boats and helicopters for her swansong trip. In Kochi she will undergo a spell in a dry dock for essential repairs and dry docking to retrieve valuable and sensitive equipment, including the engines, radars, big and small guns and other weaponry. Kicking-off the dismantling process on May 6, her fleet of Sea Harrier aircraft flew off for the last time from her deck and was given a formal farewell at INS Hansa, in Goa two days later. Ranked as the oldest functional aircraft carrier in the world and the last British-built ship serving the Indian Navy, INS Viraat was the star attraction at the International Fleet Review held in Visakhapatnam in February this year. With the Indian Navy for 29 years, INS Viraat - the Grand Old Lady, as she was fondly referred to - spent 2,250 days at sea covering 1.09 million kms -- or encircling the globe 27 times in six years. She played a major role in the IPKF Operation Jupiter in Sri Lanka in 1989, Kargil War's Operation Vijay in 1999, various international naval exercises before 'handing over charge' to the new aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya which was commissioned in 2013. As HMS Hermes, the vessel had served the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1964 and led the South Atlantic Task Force on an 8,000 km voyage to free the Falkland Islands from Argentina, which had taken them over. Everyone had said it couldn't be done, but the task force achieved the near impossible, much to the happiness of Iron Lady of Britain, the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Sailing at 28-knots plus speeds, the ship gave a spectacular performance with aircraft onboard operating round-the-clock, units from the ship shredding many enemy aircraft in the air and neutralizing other challenges on the ground during the 74-day-long conflict in which the UK came up trumps against Argentina. After that war, she was kept as a reserve, decommissioned from active service in 1985 and in April 1986, India which was scouting for a second aircraft carrier to replace the ageing INS Vikrant, decided to buy the vessel for the Indian Navy. On May 12, 1987 -- the ship capable of handling short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) Sea Harrier jump jets, other fighter aircraft and all types of helicopters, plus a crew complement of 1,600 -- was commissioned under the White Ensign of the Indian Navy. Built by Vickers Shipbuilding