Saturday, May 12, 2007

20 yrs and counting....

Today.... India’s sole aircraft carrier ‘INS Viraat’..... a 28,700-tonne and 226.5-metres long vessel.... completes 20 yrs with the Indian Navy. It holds a special place for Mumbaikars as it is mostly based in the city.

As per the source... India purchased ths vessel in April, 1986 and the floating airport, called ‘HMS Hermes’ by the Royal Navy, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1887 at Devenport near Plymouth in the UK. The mighty vessel..... which proved its mettle during the Falklands War in May 1982, was named as “Viraat’’ (giant) by the wife of the former Indian high commissioner to the UK, Aakama Alexander.

Also, Captain Vinod Pasricha, the first officer who commandeered the warship between May, 1987 - December, 1988... said tht.... whn the Royal Navy handed over ths warship to them for a pittance amnt of Rs 400 crore, the British officers appeared convinced that its life span wld not extend beyond 10 yrs i.e. till 1997. They even expressed doubts whether the Indian Navy wld be able to manage the aircraft carrier.

Pasricha, now retired and settled in Pune, said... "They (Royal Navy) have been proved wrong because she (‘INS Viraat’) has operated for 20 yrs and I am confident that she can remain in service for another 10 yrs or so. And the Royal Navy is extremely happy at the way we have looked after it. It has undoubtedly exceeded their expectations.’’

The present captain of the naval giant, Girish Luthra, said tht the warship was tentatively slated to remain operational till about 2015. It is expected to undergo a routine refit programme next year which will further increase its life span.

On August 17, 1987, ‘INS Viraat’ arrived off Mumbai and was taken for customs clearance to Goa. And on August 21, 1987, she was accorded a red-carpet welcome off the Gateway of India.

Pasricha Also said tht like INS Vikrant, Viraat too cld be turned into a naval museum once it is phased out in about 10 years.

The navy will hold blood donation drive and feed the poor to mark the 20th anniversary of INS Viraat....


- Built by Vickers-Armstrong in the UK

- Launched as ‘HMS Hermes’ on February 16, 1953, by Clementine Churchill, wife of former British PM Winston Churchill

- The warship entered service with the Royal Navy on November 18, 1959. She saw glory during the May 1982 Falklands War

- She served with the Royal Navy till April 12, 1984 and was sold to the Indian Navy in April 1986

- Between July 1999 and April 2001, she underwent a major life extension refit. This resulted in upgrading her propulsion system, an addition of a new package of sensors, the introduction of a modern communication system, a new long-range surveillance radar, weapons systems and also a new hangar

- The aircraft carrier’s lift system was revamped to reduce the reaction time in the event of air attack.

- A new flood alarm system was also installed

- It has been equipped with a 12’’ ski jump to operate the Sea Harriers

- In 2003 she underwent another major upgrading and came back to service in November 2004. During this period she became the first warship of the Indian Navy to be equipped with the Israeli Barak anti-missile system. The warship’s magazine capacity includes about 80 lightweight torpedoes. It also has the capacity to transport commandos for around 750 troops

- She is equipped with an air search, air/surface search, navigation and fire control radars. She has a hull mounted sonar with a search and attack capability

- She has a hi-tech combat information and a satellite communication system

- She has the capacity to carry 30 Sea Harriers. She also carriers the Kamov airborne early warning helicopters

- Carries the Sea King commando assault and vertical replenishment helicopters. Hindustan Aeronautical Limited’s Chetak and Dhruv helicopters also form a part of the warship’s air group

- The maximum speed is 28 knots and it has a maximum range of 6500 miles at 14 knots

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