Indian Navy bids farewell to INS Viraat- its ‘grand old lady’ and World’s oldest Aircraft Carrier

INS Viraat, the world’s oldest aircraft carrier, has sailed under tow for the very last time from Kochi and is being towed to Mumbai. Viraat now awaits orders for its decommissioning.

Viraat shares a special emotional bond with Kochi and Cochin Shipyard limited CSL, as it has been refitted here every time it needed repairs or periodic regular maintenance.

INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987.

The ship operated Sea Harrier (White Tigers – fighter air crafts), Seaking 42B (Harpoons – Anti Submarine helicopters) and Seaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak(Angles – SAR helicopter) as its main air elements.

The Sea Harrier fleet was also recently decommissioned at Goa on May 16.


Under the Indian flag, various aircraft have flown more than 22,034 hours from the decks of INS Viraat.

INS Viraat has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea sailing and traveled over 5,88,288 NM (10, 94,215 KM). This implies that Viraat has been at sea for over six years covering the entire globe about 27 times.

It played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 (Indian Peace Keeping operations in Sri Lanka) and Operation Vijay in the year 1999 (Kargil War).

The ship also participated in various international joint exercises like Malabar (with US Navy), Varuna (with French Navy), Naseem-Al-Bahar (with Oman Navy) and has been an integral element of all major naval exercises.

The last operational deployment of the ship was for participation in International Fleet Review (IFR-2016) at Visakhapatnam.

Having served the country and the Navy for nearly three decades, INS Viraat handed over the mantle of carrier operations to INS Vikramaditya which was commissioned in the year 2013.

The second aircraft carrier of the country has spent 29 years under the Indian flag and 27 years with the Royal Navy (United Kingdom).

The ship holds the Guinness record for being the oldest serving warship.

INS Viraat is a Centaur-Class Aircraft Carrier and served in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes, which was the flag ship of Royal Navy during the Falk Lands Campaign of 1982. It is commonly referred to as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ among the Naval community.

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