INS Viraat could go the Vikrant way

INS Viraat (File Photo)

The plan to convert decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat into a maritime museum seem to have run into a rough weather.

If things go worse, Viraat may meet the same fate as Vikrant. The British-made INS Viraat is currently docked at the Mumbai harbour since its decommissioning on March 6, 2017. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Goa - had initially evinced interest in the project.

In November 2018, the Maharashtra government cleared an estimate of Rs 852 crore for the ambitious maritime museum project - which was to be located in Sindhudurg district along the coastal Konkan belt of the state.

In May 2019, the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) floated Expressions of Interest (EOI) for converting the ship into an integrated tourism facility and for operating it on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis. The July 1 deadline was extended to from 15. However, so far, no bids have been received.

"There is no other option as of now as people have not come with bids with regards to the tenders floated by the Maharashtra government... we would have to look for other available options," an Indian Navy official told DH on Friday.

To a specific query whether aircraft carrier Viraat may have to be scrapped, the official said: "Most likely."

The Guinness record holder for being the longest-serving warship of the world, INS Viraat had served for 30 years in the Indian Navy and 27 years in the Royal Navy.

Under the Indian Flag, the ship was instrumental during Operation Parakram between India and Pakistan; apart from Sri Lankan Peace Keeping operation. Its last operational deployment was for participation in International Fleet Review in February 2016.

As far as Vikrant was concerned, in 1957, the warship was sold to India by the United Kingdom and in 1961 it was commissioned as INS Vikrant on March 4, 1961. It was decommissioned on January 31 , 1997.  Multiple efforts to convert it into a museum failed. However, in May, 2014, Vikrant moved from Naval Dockyard to Darukhana, following Supreme Court order. In November 2014, Vikrant was scrapped.

 
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