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War veterans oppose scrapping of grand old lady INS Viraat

War veterans oppose scrapping of grand old lady INS Viraat
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War veterans oppose scrapping of grand old lady INS Viraat

Highlights

  • On April 24,1986, Indian Navy purchased the vessel
  • As part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) Operation Jupiter in July 1989 was Viraat's first major operation
  • She was part of Operation Parakram in 2001-2002, post the terror attack on Parliament
  • The aircraft carrier was decommissioned in March 2017
  • Her last operational deployment was the participation in International Fleet Review at Vishakhapatanam on February 2016
  • The aircraft carrier served the Indian Navy for 30 years
  • Alang-based Shree Ram group bought it for Rs 38.54 crore at an auction

Bengaluru: After serving the Indian Navy for three decades the decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat set sail for the last time, on the way to Alang in Gujrat where she will be sold as scrap. The Indian Navy veterans feel that the ship should be made into a living museum that will enlighten the future generations about the glorious history of the Indian Navy.

War veteran Rear Admiral Sudarshan Shrikhande, AVSM, told The Hans India that for those who serve in ships, seeing any ship sail into her last sunset is certainly poignant, and perhaps sad. "As every sailor knows, ships, like they themselves, grow old and need to be retired. Viraat was a grand old lady, who served with honour in two navies for decades. What is especially a pity is that the Navy looked after her as a decommissioned hulk for just so many years in the vain hope that some government agency, some state government would agree to partner with it and make her into a living museum," he stated.

"It resulted in premium berthing spaces in the dockyard, much money and caretaker crew. And, ultimately to the breakers she goes. Is it wrong to be sentimental? I don't think so. The navy does not make a pitch for making museums of each ship.

"We dispassionately scrap them, use them as targets to be sunk in live ordnance firings and occasionally in parks and public spaces for the education and pride of our citizens. Either way, ships continue to "serve" India in some way after decommissioning. Go, Viraat, meet your "unmakers" at the Alang shipbreakers yard, knowing you will be remembered always with affection, pride and happy memories. You will live on, Lady," Admiral said.

The commanding officers of the Viraat include admirals Arun Prakash, NK Verma, DK Joshi, and Madhvendra Singh. The first former commanding officer of INS Sardar Patel (VSM) Commodore B.R. Prakash commented that the ship should be preserved and converted into a museum like INS Kurusura, India's fifth submarine.

"Scrapping INS Viraat would not only hurt the feeling of the Navy but the entire nation. As a nation we need to preserve our maritime heritage for the next generation. It will serve as an aspirational symbol to inspire the youth to take to the seas. All of us who have been associated with the ship feel the loss. It's like a member of the family or a family heirloom being sold," he said.

Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that he wanted to try one last attempt to save INS Viraat.

"Would Reliance, TATA, Adani, Wipro, HCL, Mahindra, Uday Kotak, Poonawalla, Tech companies like Infosys consider contributing to a trust to preserve our history," the tweet said.

A serving Naval officer commented that the government and the corporates should come forward to save the maritime heritage. "When the ship was decommissioned, we had a hope that this time INS Vikrant will not be repeated. It is heartbreaking," he said.

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