Indian Navy bids farewell to world’s oldest aircraft carrier

The oldest aircraft carrier in the world and the last British-built ship to serve in the Indian Navy left the port city of Kochi to undertake its last sail as a navy ship.

Having undergone a refit in Kochi, INS Viraat is now en route to Mumbai where it will be decommissioned at the navy yard.

INS Viraat is expected to be decommissioned later this year after spending 57 years in service, first in the British and later in the Indian Navy.

Born as HMS Hermes, the Centaur-class aircraft carrier was in service with the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1984. Hermes was then sold to India in 1986 and recommissioned as INS Viraat.

Viraat served as the flagship of the Indian Navy, before the INS Vikramaditya, which was delivered to India by Russia, was commissioned in 2013.

After it is decommissioned, INS Viraat will be handed over to the Andhra Pradesh government which intends to berth the carrier in Vizag and use it to promote tourism.