After almost 60-year service Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat left Friday for its last underway before it is converted into a luxury hotel, according to local press.
Friday Viraat left the port of Paradeep on India’s eastern coast bound ultimately to the western coast for Mumbai where the ship will be decommissioned, according to the Times of India report on Friday.
“The operational cycle of the ship ends in Mumbai,” Navy sources told the paper.
Earlier this month Viraat – formerly the HMS Hermes with the U.K. Royal Navy – participated in India’s International Fleet Review as its last major appearance before its planned decommissioning, according to a Jane’s Defence Weekly report.
“A large proportion of the ship’s complement of 1,500 officers and ratings would be imminently transferred to INS Vikrant , the 40,000-ton carrier under construction at Cochin Shipyard Limited, southern India,” read the Jane’s report.
When the ship reaches Mumbai with its skeleton crew, the ship will be stripped for useful military equipment before undergoing the conversion process into a “luxury hotel to attract tourists once it is decommissioned from service in June this year,” according to Indian paper The Tribune.
Viraat’s final home will be on India’s eastern coast in the city of Visakhapatnam – in the state of Andhra Pradesh and locally referred to as Vizag – which is also home to a submarine museum.
The hotel seeks to help improve the tourism fortunes of the region.
“It will have 500 rooms and a conference hall to seat 500 people. Since it is an aircraft carrier, helicopters can easily land on it. It will be convenient to hold conferences apart from being a major tourist attraction,” Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu told the paper.
Originally commissioned in the U.K. in 1959, the carrier as Hermes was a key capital ship during Britain’s campaign in the Falkland Islands before being transferred to India in 1987.
Viraat leaving the fleet, leaves India with the Soviet-era INS Vikramaditya as India’s only aircraft carrier until Vikrant – the country’s first domestically constructed and long delayed carrier commissions in 2018.
The Indian government is currently in talks with the U.S. to share technology for India’s proposed 65,000-ton carrier Vishal — part of India’s indigenous aircraft carrier-II (IAC-II) program.
India’s interest in aircraft carriers directly relate to China’s People’s Liberation Army uptick in operations in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi sees China as its most capable potential adversary.