INS Viraat (from Sanskrit Virāṭa meaning Giant) is a Centaur-class aircraft carrier in service with the Indian Navy. Having served the Indian Navy since 1987, the ship is on its last operational tour, having set sail on Monday from Mumbai; with over 1200 officers and sailors onboard. She is headed to Visakhapatnam for the upcoming International Fleet Review 2016 and will be decommissioned later this year.
Here are 10 interesting facts about INS Viraat:
1. INS Viraat, weighing 28,000 tons, served the UK Royal Navy as HMS Hermes. Later she was recommissioned by the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987 and was later rechristened as the INS Viraat.
2. The centaur-class aircraft carrier, measuring 226.5m in length is fitted with a 12° ski jump to launch the Sea Harrier, a reinforced flight deck, and a 3 cm armor over the magazines and machinery spaces.
3. Referred to as ‘Mother’ in the Indian Navy, she is one of the three carriers based in the Indian Ocean.
4. If at war, INS Viraat can carry up to 26 combat aircraft which includes Armaments like 40mm Bofors AA guns, Barak SAM VL cells and twin AK-230 CIWS.
5. In September 1993, the engine room of Viraat flooded, as a result of which the vessel was out of service for several months. By 1995, the vessel was back in service and got a new search radar.
6. She became smart ship in early June 2001; after being revamped with a lot of sensors and transducers which extended its life till 2010.
7. The vessel was towed back to a dry dock for another refit in mid-2003 and returned to service only in November 2004, during which the vessel was fitted with the Barak SAM.
8. It is possible that the ship could remain in service until 2020, provided that there are still Sea Harriers available for ship-borne operations was the opinion after the servicing.
9. Over the last few years, the Sea Harriers have been incredibly difficult to operate because of the lack of availability of spare parts from the UK. Along with the Sea Harrier, the Navy is operating 6 Sea King anti-submarine warfare choppers on board the Viraat.
10. Aircraft carrier INS Viraat won the coveted ‘Cock Trophy’ during the Western Fleet Whaler Pulling Regatta, making it the last time the warship participated in the event before she is decommissioned.