INS Viraat, Indian Navy's flagship aircraft carrier, will retire from service today.
INS Viraat's retirement will not only end a glorious chapter in the Indian Navy's history but will also create a vacuum as the sea hawks will be short of two aircraft carriers now.
Responding to a call from the Defence Ministry previous year to all coastal States to put forward proposals on INS Viraat, A.P. has proposed to convert it into an offshore luxury hotel and build a Marina along with an entertainment zone around it.
The Andhra Pradesh government had indicated that it may be willing to convert the old ship into a museum, but the project will cost nearly Rs 1,000 crore.
The Andhra Pradesh government has formally evinced interest in making the INS Viraat a museum, though similar plans for the erstwhile Vikrant had failed. The Royal Navy decommissioned the ship in 1987.
Under the Indian Navy, aircraft have clocked more than 22,034 hours of flying from INS Viraat's decks.
The grand event will see the lowering and wrap-up of the naval flag installed on the warship at sunset, marking an end to a long sea odyssey lasting 55 years.
It housed the fighters "White Tigers" - the Sea Harriers of INAS 300, which were decomissioned in Goa in May 2016, anti-submarine aircraft Sea King MK42B, Sea King MK42C or "Harpoons", SAR helicopter Chetan, besides ALH "Dhruv" and Russian twin rotor Kamov-31.
INS Viraat played a major role in Operation Jupiter in 1989 in Sri Lankan Peace Keeping operations, Operation Parakram in 2001-2002 when India and Pakistan were in stand-off, post-terror strikes on Indian Parliament, among others. The decision on the warship's future has not been taken yet.