Fifty-seven years of distinguished service later, first as HMS Hermes in the Royal British Navy and then with the Indian Navy since 1987, the warhorse INS Viraat is staring at an undignified end of its life cycle.Now, already due for decommissioning, the aircraft carrier that has a glorious history, including participation in the Falklands war of 1982, has no takers. It faces similar fate as the 1971 war hero INS Vikrant which was reduced to a heap of scrap in 2014 after preserved as a museum in Mumbai from 1997 and 2012.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last year, in August, the Navy, which is keen to see Viraat converted into a tourist attraction like a museum, had shared its concern with the ministry of defence (MoD). MoD, in turn, wrote to nine maritime state governments — West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat — asking them if they would be interested in taking the custody of the decommissioned ship.Although some of them have shown interest, none has come up with a feasible model to maintain the decommissioned warship which involves huge costs, a senior MoD functionary told dna.Notably, the Andhra Pradesh government took over the submarine INS Kursura after its decommissioning in 2001 and converted it into a museum that is a major tourist attraction in Vishakapatnam.Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, in fact, wrote a letter to defence minister Manohar Parrikar last year showing interest in INS Viraat. However, after that, there has been no follow-up, said the MoD functionary. The functionary added that the defence secretary’s office will soon send fresh letters in this regard to the chief secretaries of the nine maritime states.Sources said that that the Navy is keen to preserve the rich legacy of Viraat but has little resources, both monetary and human, to dispense with for a ship not in use and would otherwise divert them to new and existing ships.INS Viraat, which is the only existing aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy besides INS Vikramaditya, has a strength of about 1,500 officers and sailors, including the aviation crew. It participated at the multi-nation International Fleet Review in February as its last operational deployment. Its full complement includes six Sea Harrier fighter jets, six Sea King anti-submarine warfare helicopters and four Chetak helicopters.Chetak and Sea King anti-submarine warfare helicopters.”Viraat has to go for the final dry docking at Cochin before decommissioning. We are looking to find takers for it before we let it retire,” said a senior naval officer.

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After 57-years of service, no takers for the retiring INS Viraat