It is not often in the world of warships that a ship completes close to six decades in commission. The de-commissioning of INS Viraat on March 6 will bring to an end the saga of one of the most celebrated warships of our times.
The keel of the ship was laid in 1944, as World War II raged towards its bloody climax. However, the end of the war led to a halt in her construction, and it was only on February 16, 1953 that the Hermes was launched by Lady Clementine, wife of then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. After completing trials, she was commissioned into the Royal Navy on November 18, 1959.
On commissioning, she had many firsts to her credit. She was the first ship with remote controls for the main machinery, the first ship where bunks were provided to each crew member, as against hammocks on earlier ships and among the first ships which was fully air-conditioned.
On commissioning, Hermes displaced 27,800 tonnes with a capacity to carry 20 fighter aircraft and eight helicopters, and a complement of 2,100 men. The versatility of the ship’s design is evident from the fact that she underwent four role changes in her life. Between 1959 and 1970, Hermes served as a strike carrier; in 1970, she was converted into a commando carrier; in 1976, into an anti-submarine warfare carrier; and, in 1980 into a vertical/short take-off and landing carrier.
Read more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/ins-viraat-old-warships-never-die-they-re-resurrected-in-another-avatar/story-pWDzXjpwghpd9bfR0ro5rK.html
Hindustan Times, March 2, 2017