World’s Oldest Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat Receives Emotional Farewell On Its Final Journey

INS Viraat, the world’s oldest aircraft carrier, was towed for the last time from Kochi to Mumbai, where it would be decommissioned after 5 decades of service with the Navy.

The final journey of the carrier began from Ernakulam Wharf of Cochin Port Trust on 23rd October where she was dry-docked and prepared for decommissioning. The Navy officials led by the Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Nadkarni bid farewell to her.

The ship is being towed back by three tugs to Mumbai for the decommissioning ceremony to honour 55 years of service with both the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy (British), a Navy official said.

INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987 and operated four squadrons of the Naval air arm, namely Sea Harrier (White Tigers),  Westland Sea King (Harpoons), BAE Sea Harrier (The Braves), Alouette III and HAL Chetak (Angles) as its main air elements.

INS Viraat would be handed over to Andhra Pradesh government after its decommissioning. The AP government has been interested to berth the ship in Vizag for promotion of tourism after its decommissioning.


INS Viraat is a Centaur-Class Aircraft Carrier and served in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes, which was the flag ship of Royal Navy during the Falk Lands Campaign of 1982 was decommissioned from active duty in 1985

The Indian Navy purchased the vessel in April 1986 and gave her an extensive refit at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, England. Throughout the service period for the Indian Navy, most of the major and minor refit operations were carried out at Cochin Shipyard, Kochi.

INS Viraat
Credits: PIB

INS Viraat has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea sailing and travelled over 5,88,288 NM (10, 94,215 KM). This implies that Viraat has been at sea for over six years covering the entire globe about 27 times.

The second aircraft carrier of the country,  has spent 29 years under the Indian flag and 27 years with the Royal Navy (United Kingdom).

It played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 (Indian Peace Keeping operations in Sri Lanka) and Operation Vijay in the year 1999 (Kargil War).

Having served the country and the Navy for nearly three decades, INS Viraat handed over the mantle of carrier operations to INS Vikramaditya which was commissioned in the year 2013.

INS Viraat holds the Guinness record for being the oldest serving warship.


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