‘जलमेव तस्य, बलमेव तस्य ‘ (One Who Controls the Sea is All Powerful) was the motto of the recently decommissioned Naval Warship INS VIRAAT. And it lived up to its motto by securing the Indian shores for many many years.
The ship weighs 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 had a capacity for 150 officers and 1500 sailors.
Her crest is embedded with an eagle with five arrows in Talon. The eagle depicts air power, while the five arrows symbolize ship’s versatile weapon capability. The ship is connected to an elite infantry regiment of Indian Army Garhwal Rifles and Scouts since their participation in Operation Jupiter.
The warship was decommissioned by Present Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba who also served as an Executive Officer of INS Viraat. She was also served by Indian Navy Admiral (Retd) Madhavendra Singh, Admiral (Retd) Arun Prakash, Admiral (Retd) Nirmal Kumar Verma and Admiral (Retd) Devendra Kumar Joshi as Commanding Officers.
INS VIRAAT was originally commissioned into the British Royal Navy as HMS HERMES on November 18, 1959 as one of the Royal Navy’s four Strike Carriers, mainly operating in the Indian Ocean.
Then she switched her duty as a commando carrier or landing platform helicopter and lastly as an an anti-submarine warfare carrier with the option to revert to the LPH role at short notice in 1970’s-80’s.
Hermes also performed her duty during Falkland war for the British Royal Navy, where Sea Harriers undertook 2,376 sorties and shoot down 23 enemy aircraft with the loss of only one aircraft to enemy fire. She battled rough seas for 108 days to be exact during war.
Then HMS HERMES was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS VIRAAT on May 12, 1987 at Plymouth, United Kingdom by the then High Commissioner to UK Dr. P.C. Alexander.
INS Viraat was commissioned into Indian Navy on May 12, 1987 at Plymouth, United Kingdom by Dr P C Alexander, then High Commissioner of India to UK, where she continued operating Sea Harrier (White Tigers-fighter aircrafts), Seaking 42B (Anti-Submarine helicopters), Seaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak (SAR helicopter) as her main weapons.
Operation Jupiter was the first operation for INS VIRAAT for India in July 1989 as it was sent ti Sri Lanka for peacekeeping operation in 1989.
INS Viraat’s first major operation was ‘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 July 27, 1989, the ship mounted 76 helo sorties off Kochi to embark over 350 army personnel and over 35 tons of stores of the 7 Garhwal Rifles.
She also played a leader’s role in Operation Parakram after the terrorist attack on Parliament in 2013 and also created a blockade against Pakistan during the Kargil War in 1999.
Despite her glorious past, this magnificent warship has no takers right now to turn it into a museum for the future generation to see. So there is a strong possibility that this ship might end up at some ship breaking facility and turn it into scrap . As Admiral Lamba warned the ship has three months for the takers, if there are any.