INS Viraat, formerly HMS Hermes R12 and currently the oldest operational aircraft carrier in the world, will soon be converted into a museum ship. The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) authorities have received an in-principle approval from the Ministry of Defence to begin work on converting the Centaur-class light fleet carrier into a museum in 2016 when the vessel is due to be commissioned. The warship will be docked at Kakinada port in Andhra, Eastern India to serve as a tourist attraction.
HMS Hermes was launched in 1953 and served the Royal Navy for 34 years before being sold to the Indian Navy as INS Viraat in 1987. During its time with the Royal Navy the vessel served first as a conventional carrier then as a commando carrier operating helicopters and then finally as a V/STOL carrier operating Sea Harriers. It was in this last capacity that the ship served as flagship of the taskforce that liberated the Falkland Islands from an Argentine occupation in 1982.
It is likely that APTDC will concentrate on celebrating the vessel’s service with the Indian Navy but hopefully they will pay tribute to the vessel’s pivotal role in the 1982 conflict as well.