Navy had tried to preserve the decommissioned aircraft carrier by converting it into a museum.

Decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat, which has been lying at the Naval dockyard in Mumbai, is set to be scrapped at a ship breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat soon. It has been sold to the Shree Ram Green Ship Recycling Industries of Gujarat in an e-auction by the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited (MSTC), a Navy official said on Tuesday.

Several attempts by the Navy to preserve the carrier, by converting it into a museum or by other means, failed. The government informed Parliament in July last year that it had been decided to scrap the carrier.

“Shree Ram Group got the carrier for ₹38 crore… A delivery order has to be placed. Once its signed, there is a time period within which it has to be taken away,” an official said. It is likely to be towed away in early September.

Viraat, a Centaur class aircraft carrier weighing 27,800 tonnes, served in the British Navy as HMS Hermes for 25 years from November 1959 to April 1984. It was commissioned into the Indian Navy in May 1987 after refurbishment and had operated Harrier fighter jets. 

It was decommissioned from in March 2017, and the the Navy had been incurring expenditure since then on its upkeep, such as the provision of electricity and water, and repairs. It was also taking up space in the crowded Naval dockyard.

There had been demands from various quarters to not let Viraat go the way of Vikrant, India’s first carrier that was eventually scrapped. Several States had submitted proposals, but none of them fructified. 

The Andhra Pradesh government, headed by former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, had made several attempts. In October 2016, it submitted a proposal for its conversion into an aircraft museum, including tourist and hospitality components, on a commercial basis through a joint venture with the Centre. But the Defence Ministry rejected the proposal two months later.

In 2018, the Maharashtra Cabinet approved a proposal to convert the carrier into a museum and hospitality centre on a Public-Private Partnership basis and had invited bids. But there were no takers.

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