Decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat e-auction on Tuesday 

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Decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat e-auction on Tuesday 

Mumbai:  The decommissioned aircraft carrier, ‘Viraat’, which was ordered to be scrapped six months ago by the government, will be e-auctioned here on Tuesday.

The e-auction – by Metals and Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) – will be conducted from 12.16 p.m. The magnificent ship holds a Guinness World Record for being the oldest serving warship in the world.

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.

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.

This will make ‘Viraat’ the country’s second popular aircraft carrier in five years – after the first one, ‘Vikrant’ which had an emotional connect with the whole nation – was similarly scrapped and auctioned in April 2014.

Subsequently, ‘Vikrant’ metal parts were used to manufacture a particular brand of motorcycles.

In July, the Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik had announced the decision to scrap ‘Viraat’ in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

He said that the ‘Viraat’ could not be given over to any state government as none could come up with a complete, self-sustaining financially viable proposal.

Accordingly in view of safety, security and other considerations, it was decided to scrap the aircraft warrior after holding discussions with the Indian Navy.

It may be recalled that states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh were keen to take over and preserve the ‘Viraat’ by converting it into a permanent dry or floating maritime museum for domestic and global tourists.

Maharashtra was prepared to invest in a public-private partnership for the proposed maritime museum which would be docked off Sindhudurg, around 550 kms south from Mumbai.

However, there were no takers for the proposals by both the states from the private sector and culminated in the decision to scrap for which the e-auction is being held on Tuesday.

The erstwhile ‘INS Viraat’ had joined the Indian Peace-Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka during the Kargil War, and several fighter aircraft and combat helicopters have operated from its decks.

However, most of her sensitive equipments like the weaponry and sensors, its main machinery and auxiliaries, the huge propellers, sophisticated communication and navigation systems, life-saving systems, etc have been ‘cannibalized’, or retrieved prior to the e-auction.

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