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World's oldest aircraft carrier to be converted into luxury hotel

P S Jayaram/Hyderabad
Filed on February 10, 2016 | Last updated on February 10, 2016 at 05.33 am
Worlds oldest aircraft carrier to be converted into luxury hotel
INS Viraat will be decommissioned later this year.

(PTI)

The decision was conveyed to the state authorities on the sidelines of the International Fleet Review (IFR- 2016) at the coastal Andhra city of Visakhapatnam.

The world's oldest aircraft carrier INS Viraat will be converted into a hotel to attract tourists after it is decommissioned from service later this year.

The Defence Ministry has approved a proposal from Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) to convert the Centaur-class aircraft carrier into a hotel.

The decision was conveyed to the state authorities on the sidelines of the International Fleet Review (IFR- 2016) at the coastal Andhra city of Visakhapatnam.

The state government has drawn up plans to convert Viraat into a 500-room hotel, the Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said. The warship would be docked at the shores of Visakhapatnam to serve as a tourist attraction.

"It will have 500 rooms and a conference hall to seat 500 people. Since it is an aircraft carrier, helicopters can easily land on it. It will be convenient to hold conferences apart from being a major tourist attraction," the Chief Minister said.

The officials are confident that INS Viraat can be a game changer for the tourism development in the state. Its conversion into a hotel-cum-ship museum will be jointly undertaken by Indian Navy and Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA). The central government would also contribute for the project to be taken up under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

The north coastal city is also home to INS Kursura, a Soviet-built decommissioned submarine, that has been converted into a museum in 2002. It is the first submarine museum in South Asia. It received 270,000 visitors in 2010, according to Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority, which maintains the museum ship.

INS Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy's HMS Hermes and was transferred to India in 1987. In April 1986, India had entered into an agreement with Britain to acquired HMS Hermes. It was part of the action during the Falklands war in 1982. After refits and new equipment being fitted on Hermes, it was commissioned as INS Viraat on May 12, 1987. Originally, the aircraft carrier was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2009, but with the INS Vikramaditya's induction being delayed, Viraat underwent a series of refits and continued its service.

Viraat is currently on its last operational tour of duty and participated in the International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam together with 100 other ships from 51 countries.

The 28,700-tonne aircraft carrier will retire after 57 years of service, including 29 years in the Indian Navy. Viraat, the last British ship serving the Indian Navy, is the flagship of the Western Naval Command. It can carry up to 26 fighter aircraft and helicopters, including 16 Sea Harriers and helicopters such as Sea Kings, and Chetaks. It will be decommissioned in June this year.

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