Maharashtra state cabinet approved plant for conversion of Indian Navy’s longest-serving aircraft carrier INS Viraat, into India’s first-ever moored maritime museum-cum-marine adventure centre. At present, INS Viraat is at Mumbai’s Naval dockyard after it was decommissioned (retired) in 2017.
As per state government’s plan, INS Viraat’s conversion will be on publicprivate-partnership (PPP) basis. It will be grouted (grounded, sealed to seabed with concrete and moored) seven nautical miles off Malvan coast at Nivati rocks in Sindhudurg districct. This ship will host biodiversity centres and marine adventure centre providing sailing and scuba-diving experiences. There will be virtual galleries, cafeterias and even training centre for merchant navy crew. World over only seven aircraft carriers so far have been converted into museums, theme parks and luxury hotel.
It was built in 1943 during Second World War and was first commissioned as HMS Hermes into the British Royal Navy in November 1959. During the Falklands War in 1982, the aircraft carrier had served as flagship of the Royal Navy’s task force. British navy had decommissioned in 1985 after 27 years of service. It has sailed nearly 11 lakh km, enough to cover the globe 27 times. It had spent 30 years in Indian Navy and 27 years in Royal British Navy. It was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987.
It had played a major role in Operation Jupiter in 1989 in the Sri Lankan peace keeping operation. It had participated in the standoff Operation Parakram in 2001-20012 when India and Pakistan were engaged in a standoff post the Parliament terror attack. Its last operational deployment was for participation in International Fleet Review held at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh in February 2016. INS Viraat holds Guinness Books of record of being the longest serving warship in the world. It was also the last British-built ship serving with the Indian Navy.