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Will India be able to save its oldest and the world’s longest serving warship from being scrapped and successfully convert it into a museum? It might be possible, if the efforts of a Mumbai-based firm gets the green signal from the authorities.
Originally commissioned by the British Navy as HMS Hermes in 1959, the warship had fought in the Falklands War. The decommissioned British warship was acquired by the Indian Navy in 1986 and renamed as INS Viraat. The Indian Navy formally decommissioned it in 2017. After efforts to convert it into a museum and hotel failed, the ship was sent to Alang shipyard in Gujarat for dismantling.
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However, Envitech Marine Consultants Pvt Limited of Mumbai is keen to save the ship from destruction and convert it into a museum. Thus saving the legendary icon of the Indian Navy.
According to media reports, the government of Goa has agreed to allow the museum ship to drop anchor in the Zuari River.
Shree Ram Group, which acquired the ship through a government bid, too is willing to part with the heritage vessel for a pre-determined price, the media said.
While the outcome of the government’s decision is awaited (at the time of going to press), one may recall INS Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier, also acquired from the British (in 1961), was dismantled in 2014 after being decommissioned in 1997. For a brief period, it too served as a maritime museum. The 19,500-tonne British built aircraft carrier was commissioned in 1961 and immediately pressed into service when Indian troops went to take possession of the Portuguese colony of Goa. In 1971, it took an active part in the Indo-Pak war that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
In 2016, India’s leading motorcycle manufacturer, Bajaj Auto, salvaged the steel from the dismantled ship and processed it to be used in its new bike Bajaj V.
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