The decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat started to sail for the last time, on way to Alang in Gujarat, where it will be broken down and sold as scrap. Navy veterans who watched the huge vessel being towed by tug boats, there was a lump in the throat as they bade it an emotional farewell from the Gateway of India. The vessel had served the Indian Navy for 30 years before being decommissioned. It had served in the UK’s Royal Navy as HMS Hermes and named INS Viraat after being inducted in the Indian Navy. There were attempts to convert ‘Viraat’ into a museum or a restaurant, but none of the plans fructified.
देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा।
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति।।
… the Spirit lives on pic.twitter.com/RaAuCVPjGM
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) September 19, 2020
Alang-based Shree Ram group has won the bid for dismantling the ship. The company’s high capacity tugs are towing the vessel to Alang and it would take two days to complete the journey, an official said. Many social media users lamented the failure of successive governments to preserve Viraat and another aircraft carrier Vikrant as maritime museums to depict India’s rich naval heritage, instead of allowing them to be broken down and sold as scrap.