The ex-Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat (the former HMS Hermes) has arrived in Alang in the state of Gujarat, where it will undergo dismantling before the end of the month.

The country’s defence ministry had put the 28,000-tonne veteran warship up for sale in the months following its March 2017 decommissioning after efforts to convert it into a floating museum were abandoned due to insufficient funds.

The carrier was acquired by local company Shree Ram Group for INR385.4 million (US$5.22 million) through a government auction in July 2020. It will be sold for scrap following the dismantling process.

Shree Ram chairman Mukesh Patel said the dismantling is tentatively scheduled for 13:00 local time on Monday, September 28, but remains subject to the tide and weather conditions.

Originally delivered to the British Royal Navy in 1959 as the Centaur-class light fleet carrier HMS Hermes, Viraat was sold to India in 1986 and recommissioned into the Indian Navy the following year.

4.4 7 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
39 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Callum

Farewell to an old warhorse. Would be nice to have a Hermes back in the fleet though, and there are a few options: the potential Littoral Strike Ships, a possible replacement for Argus as a helicopter support ship, or further in the future a LHD replacing the Albions.

Last edited 9 days ago by Callum
Jason Holmes

The scrap value will be nothing compared to its educational and historical value. I really hope someone can save her from being cut up.

Robert Blay

Warships as floating museums cost an insane amount of money to maintain. It would only slightly delay the inevitable.

Jason Holmes

so you’d prefer to see it cut up? so on your argument, anything preserved for education is just ‘delaying the inevitable’., so never bother preserving anything? so should HMS Belfast and Victory both be scrapped?

Last edited 9 days ago by Jason Holmes
ETH

I think his point is that, even if it was saved as a museum ship, it would not be open for very long.

geoff

From what I read elsewhere it is already on its way to the scrap yard. What saddened me more is our inability to keep at least one Vulcan and Lightning in flying condition. We are able to keep a number of WW2 aircraft as such-even given for the fact that the jets are more complex warplanes they are great British icons that deserve preservation

Nick Bowman

Cape Town jets of South Africa offers rides in a Lightning (and a Buccaneer, amongst other period aircraft).

Nick Bowman

Actually, their website says that they have ceased flying operations, presumably due to financial constraints. Perhaps, some of their aircraft could be purchased?

Supportive Bloke

The issue is parts and type certification. WWII aircraft like spitfire have their own mini industry to support them and this has it’s own critical mass. That mini industry developed when standards were laxer but because it is there it is there. Vulcan was fundamentally different as it is a very complex electro mechanical and hydraulic monster. BAE were the authority and there will be a few bits of secret sauce in the engine core and a few other areas that they still won’t want to share. A lot of the parts, unlike spitfire, are not the kind of thing… Read more »

Robert Blay

Those Lightnings in South Africa stopped flying some tike ago.

Robert Blay

Aircraft like the Vulcan or a lightning don’t have endless flying careers, even if the money is available. The Vulcan stopped flying not because of a lack of money to keep her going, but due to technical and airframe fatigue. It is a shame, plus the technical support stops when a aircraft is withdrawn from service, which is why we probably won’t see an ex RAF Tornado flying again for display purposes.

David Flandry

So true. The US B-52, as old as the Vulcan, is still flying combat missions,

Robert Blay

True, but the B52 isn’t flown as dynamically as the Vulcan was. And a very different design.

Watcherzero

And the B52 has had one airframe replacement, two avionics replacements and an engine replacement programme thats dragged on for over 20 years without going anywhere. The only factory original bit still flying really is the skin of the aircraft.

Robert Blay

I didn’t say I’d rather see it cut up, I’m saying the reality is it very rarely makes economic sense to be able to preserve such vessels. And preserveing an aircraft carrier is far bigger task then keeping HMS Belfast or a Frigate in reasonable condition. Same reason Illustrious couldn’t find a sound finical package to keep her. Unfortunately, old ships don’t make for good business cases. Plus Hermes has spent longer in India service, then it did with the RN. 👍

Geoffrey Hicking

There are some American carrier museums that are well run. It really is down to the business case at the time.

dan

The USS Midway museum in San Diego, CA is a must see!

julian1

USS Intrepid in Manhattan, USS New jersey on the Delawere, USS The Sullivans on Lake Eerie are the ones they manage to run that I am aware of. The Intrepid in particular has to be comparable to Hermes

HF

Been there – excellent

Andy P

It is a shame, a piece of modern history but it is what it is I guess. There’s probably a limited number of places you could put her too.

RichardB

Agreed, but the USA seems to (mostly) make the museum numbers work. They currently have nine preserved battleships (USS Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin) and five aircraft carriers (USS Hornet, Intrepid, Lexington, Midway, Yorktown). Admittedly the USA has an economy six times larger than the UK, but its disappointing that we couldn’t save even one battleship. The WW1 and WW2 veteran HMS Warspite would be my pick, followed by Dreadnought (1906). Imagine those two berthed in Portsmouth alongside Warrior, with Victory just a short walk away. What a tourist magnet that would be!

TrevorH

The USA is a continental sized country with a massive economy. Britain had no money after WW1 and none after WW2. Plus not only the money to preserve, but no money from people to visit. WW2 vintage planes and tanks are different.

Ian

And to top it all we’ve only recently finished paying our debt to the Americans from ww2,funny how France and the other EU empties didn’t offer to help pay there share.

Paul42

Too late. She has arrived at the ship breakers and work is underway. She woukd have made a fantastic museum in the UK with her history as the Falklands flagship etc. The FAA museum has many exhibits stored away iut of sight that could have gone on her including Sea Harriers and helicopters. Where there is a will, there is a way. Unlike the USA there is no will here in the UK to preserve our maritime heritage.

Damo

I think there’s a will, just not the money for it.

Paul42

Dry docks in naval bases are empty, the government and RN could have helped. The problem is there is a lack of willpower and reluctance. A plan was put forward that woukd have saved Illustriius, a very good plan at that. But it was turned down/dismissed because in reality there was never any intention on the part of the government to save her.
A lot of senior Navy figures have commented over the years that disposal by scrapping is the preferred option.

maurice10

I remember her moored at Portsmouth on the Saturday before setting sail for the Falklands. Her decks were packed with helicopters and in the gloom of early daylight she looked formidable, a sight I’ll never forget. Invincible on the other hand had no aircraft on deck and looked less war like, just the ensign flustering in the wind. Looking at these ship I wondered what would face them in the South Atlantic and if they would survive?

God bless her memory and the service she gave to our nation.

Mark F

She survived in service longer than the Invincible class, a testament to her build quality. Goodbye Hermes and thank you for your service.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Probably for the best. It would make for the smelliest museum in the world otherwise

pkcasimir

It should be scuttled like the USS Oriskany to form an artificial reef attracting fish and other marine life. That’s a more fitting end.

dan

Sad it will be turned in razor blades.

BB85

It would he nice keep Hermes as a museum ship but I’m sure she would require a fortune to convert her back to Fawklands spec which is what most enthusiasts would want to see. It still boggles my brain that out of all the great battleships from WW2 not one could be saved as museum ship. It was criminal what some of those pathetic post war governments did to save money.

expat

Why would the government wish to expose its self to criticism from parts of the British media? We couldn’t save Illustrious and Hermes was laid down in the twilight years of the British Empire, you can imagine some of the headlines. Saving her or even part of her would be portrayed as right wing folly that has no place in modern Britain. So its easier for the government or any organisation to just let her go, its not worth the negative press. Sadly I doubt we’ll ever see another British warship saved imo.

Daniele Mandelli

I agree. I was going to post similar above in response to BBs comment on pathetic governments.
We are all meant to be ashamed of our past. Statue? Battleship? What’s the difference? Evil imperial Britain.
Keeping it only shows our obsession of the past.
I cannot wait til the madness reaches Rome. Lots of statues of slave owners and child rapists on display there…

TrevorH

Im sorry, but using this as an excuse to carp at the govt is plain pathetic.

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Trevor.

Not in my view. You could say, if expat is correct and HMG would rather take the “easy option” and not make any effort to save a warship, then that in itself is pathetic, as it is a piece of history.

We save the BBMF, and quite rightly, so why not a warship.

Believe me, with HMG;s behaviour over defence over the last 20 years I need no excuses to “carp” !!!

Regards

Kenneth Ainsworth

Having spent 6+ years on Hermes back in ’70’s, it’s so sad to see her go like this. With the illustrious career she has had in her 61 years in 2 navies, she would have made a fitting artificial reef in deep water off Plymouth Sound which was her home for many years. Having seen the environmental mess caused by ship breaking in Alang, it would only make sense to get her environmentally cleaned and to cover the cost of cleaning – all her internal machinery and fittings could have been sold for use by others or scrap value. On… Read more »

David Cottle

RIP Hero

Paul42

It would appear she may yet be saved! The ship breakers have agreed to sell her to a company run by an Indian patriot who wants to turn her into a museum in Goa. He has the funds to do so, but because she was sold for scrap they require an NOC – basically confirming no objection to her being resold from the Indian MOD. If that comes through she is saved! It appears she is moored off the beach, but in the absence of an NOC will be beached and broken up.