Coastal states’ proposals to convert the country’s second aircraft carrier, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Viraat into a museum have started reaching the Ministry of Defence. The date of decommissioning and which state the vessel will go to, however, are yet to be decided.
“We have not decided on the decommissioning date, but it will certainly be taken out of naval service in the months to come. The Ministry of Defence is yet to finalise it,” said admiral RK Dhowan, chief of naval staff, on Wednesday, on the sidelines of Investiture Ceremony on board the aircraft carrier. According to naval sources, the ship will exit from the operational fleet during the second half of 2016.
The ship, which has served for almost six decades, is likely to be converted into a museum, but if Andhra Pradesh bags the vessel, the state might turn it into a tourism hub, based in Visakhapatnam. Andhra Pradesh has sent their proposal to use the warship for tourism related activities by getting into joint venture between the state government, Indian Navy and a private firm. The rooms inside INS Viraat will be used to house tourists, apart from having varied entertainment options.
But proposals from other states are also being sought. “Some proposals have already come in and some states are in the process of sending them to us. Ministry of Defence has contacted nine coastal states regarding the subject,” added Dhowan.
Once the proposals are received, they will be scrutinised and a final call would be taken. Maharashtra has already missed an opportunity to convert India’s first aircraft carrier Vikrant, decommissioned in January 1997, into a museum or tourism centre, as the state sold the warship and the dismantling process started in November 2014. “So what if they missed a chance, they still have an opportunity for Viraat,” said Dhowan.
Whichever state bags INS Viraat, commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987, a minimum of Rs300-400 crore will be required to give it a new lease of life.
Naval officers Awarded for Bravery:
Several naval officers, divers and sailors received gallantry and non-gallantry awards on Wednesday for showing exemplary courage, selfless dedication and bravery, right from evacuating Indian diaspora from Yemen to humanitarian assistance during Hudhud cyclone to responding to distress calls and rescuing merchant sailors in choppy seas.