Talks are underway with the Andhra Pradesh government to convert INS Viraat, the oldest aircraft carrier operated by the Indian Navy, into a luxury hotel-cum-museum after its decommissioning. The carrier is expected to berth on the coast in Visakhapatnam by mid-2017. Addressing mediapersons onboard INS Shakti in Vishakhapatnam ahead of Navy Day celebrations on Sunday, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Vice-Admiral HCS Bisht said AP was the top contender for getting the majestic warship.
The AP government had shown keen interest on getting INS Viraat to berth in Vizag for promotion of tourism once it is decommissioned and turning it into a ship museum, he said.
“In a recent meeting with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Vijayawada, I discussed the modalities and financial feasibility to convert INS-Viraat into a museum-cum-star hotel,” Bisht said.
According to sources, the state government has drawn up plans to convert INS Viraat into a 500-room hotel.
INS Viraat is likely to be decommissioned by end of 2016 or some time next year after 55 years of service, including 27 years with the Royal Navy (British Navy).
It served as the flagship of Royal Navy’s task force during the Falkland Islands campaign in 1982 and was decommissioned from active duty in 1985. It was inducted into Indian Navy in 1987 after undergoing extensive refits.
Speaking about ongoing projects, the chief of ENC said that India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant was still undergoing various sea trials and it would take more time for commissioning it into the Navy.
INS Arihant is capable of carrying nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, the class referred to as Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN). Arihant was launched on July 26, 2009 on the occasion of the anniversary of Vijay Diwas (Kargil War) by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Also, INS Arihant is to be the first of the expected five in the class of submarines designed and constructed as a part of the Indian Navy’s secretive Advanced Technology Vessel project, he said.
Regarding Navy Alternative Operational Base (NAOB) at Rambilli here which would be made the submarine headquarters, Bisht said land acquisition and resettlement issues were being finalised by the state government.