INS Viraat to turn fifty, Navy plans celebration


New Delhi : India’s solitary aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, will turn 50 this year and the Navy plans a befitting celebration to mark the warship’s golden jubilee.

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“Yes, we intend to mark the golden jubilee of INS Viraat’s naval service with celebrations planned for early part of this year,” a Navy officer told PTI here today.

The celebrations would take place soon after the warship, which is currently docked at the Cochin Shipyard for repairs and maintenance, gets sailing again, he said.

On May 12 this year, INS Viraat would complete 23 years of its service with the Indian Navy. Taking into account its British Royal Navy service in its earlier avatar as HMS Hermes, the warship will complete 50 years on November 18 and hence the celebration.

The Indian Navy had acquired the Centaur Class aircraft carrier in 1987 from the British after it had served them for nearly 28 years (first inducted on November 18, 1959) and re-christened it as INS Viraat.

Consequently, the British Navy too would be requested to join the events to celebrate the warship that has served both countries so well.

In fact, after the current round of repairs, India is likely to make the aircraft carrier labour on till 2015.

By then, the 28,000-tonne warship would have completed 55 years of service, over twice and way beyond its estimated sailing life of 25 years.