INS Viraat, also known as HMS Hermes before it was acquired by the Indian Navy, was the world’s oldest aircraft carrier in service when retired. She was launched in 1959 and has served in the Royal Navy and the Indian Navy for over 60 years. Viraat is a versatile warship that has been involved in numerous operations.
INS Viraat, the former HMS Hermes is a Centaur class STOVL aircraft carrier presently in service with the Indian navy. She is also the longest serving carrier presently in service after the retirement of USS Enterprise CVN-65. She was laid down on 21st June 1944, launched nearly a decade later in the year 1953, and was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 25th of November 1959. She started her career as a CATOBAR carrier but was later converted to STOVL with the Harriers being her primary fighter. She had a glorious career in the Royal navy as she led the British flotilla sent to recapture the Falklands after the Argentine invasion. In the late 1980s she was sold to the Indians where for nearly a decade she worked alongside another carrier of British origin ie INS Vikrant and became the second aircraft carrier of the Indian navy. Presently she is operating with INS Vikramaditya, the ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov. INS Vikramaditya will take over her carrier battlegroup as and when INS Viraat is retired. Let us hope she converted into a museum after retirement. In this article, we will have a look at her glorious career.
HMS Hermes in her CATOBAR avatar
A USN Phantom onboard the Hermes
A rare color image of the CATOBAR Hermes
A nice view of her from the aft port quarter.
After she was converted into a STOVL carrier.
HMS Hermes alongside HMS Broadsword in the South Atlantic during the Falklands campaign
Another pic of hers during the campaign.
Pictures of her home coming after the campaign, she sure looks battered by the elements.
Under normal circumstances, a Soviet sub appearing so close to a carrier of western origin isn’t normal and is considered hostile. In this case however, the British carrier HMS Hermes is now serving the Indian navy under the name of INS Viraat and the Soviet sub, which is a Charlie class SSGN is on lease to India as INS Chakra.
INS Viraat seen during joint Indo-US exercise Malabar 2007 alongside the USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 and an Arleigh Burke class destroyer.
Another picture of Viraat with 2 USN carriers sailing along side as if giving respect to the sole surviving WW2 era carrier. (Credits-On the pic)
India was one of the very few operators of the original British made Harriers, here are some pics of deck ops.
INS Viraat celebrating her 50th anniversary.
INS Viraat leading an Indian flotilla during a naval exercise.
For some years, the Indian navy was a two carrier navy, here is a very rare pic of their two carriers, both of British origin, both laid down during World War 2 sailing along side each other. (Credits-On the pic)
The status of 2 carrier navy was restored after INS Vikramaditya entered service, here is a pic of INS Viraat and her CBG escorting the ex-Soviet carrier into the Indian waters.
INS Viraat alongside INS Vikramaditya.
INS Viraat with the future Vikrant
With her service now over let us hope she is preserved for future generations.
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