Capt. Biswajit Dasgupta, Commanding Officer of INS Viraat helped to lay rumors to rest, regarding near-future decommissioning plans of the vessel. “There’s no plan to pay the ship off at the moment. It will have life left for a few more years,” Capt. Dasgupta told the media aboard the vessel.
Capt. Dasgupta said the ship’s current round of refit was undertaken because it can still serve the Navy for some good years. In the first phase of refit - hull inspection and repair, machinery work and some minor jobs were scheduled. With the first phase nearly over, Viraat would now sail to Mumbai, maybe a couple of weeks from now for some essential repairs of its machinery and equipment at the Naval Dockyard. The aircraft carrier is expected to get back on duty in another three months.
When queried on the recent reports in media that Viraat would be decommissioned following the introduction of INS Vikramaditya, Capt. Dasgupta clarified - "Viraat retains the full capacity to perform its tasks, though old, but is still firing on all cylinders. We have updated Viraat with new technologies and devices. We have no doubts about her performance and power-projection capability”.
INS Viraat in glory ( Image Courtesy - asianetindia.com )
One other navy official, in condition of anonymity said - Viraat looks pretty good to go till 2016 at least, and may be beyond. From thorough inspections carried out at all recent major refits, we have found that she is still in pretty good shape, and with Sea Harriers on-board she can project power anywhere in Indian Ocean, where our interest lies.
Hardly 100 metres away, in the CSL yard’s building bay, construction was apace on the country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), which will be named INS Vikrant on commissioning. With INS Vikramaditya, expected to arrive this year, Indian Navy is eagerly looking to operate two carrier battle groups again, after a long wait of sixteen years.
Till 1997, Indian Navy used to operate two carrier battle groups, centered around INS Vikrant and INS Viraat. In few months down the line, if all goes well, Navy will be operating two carrier battle groups again, centered around INS Viraat and INS Vikramaditya.
News Courtesy - thehindu.com