It had always been a dream to meet “Mother”. She has taken care of her boys in rough weather and inhospitable conditions, gave them a deck to fly off and rain hell on enemies and hover back to safety of her hangars. She could carry 2100 men and supplies at 28knots and in wartime scenarios, she had commando transport facilities for 750 men and a fleet of 26 aircrafts, all ready to take the fight to the enemy. She is none other than the erstwhile INS Viraat.
INS Viraat has served the Indian Navy since 1986 and has been formally decommissioned in 2017. After serving for 3 decades, now she is docked at the navy docks of Mumbai.
Due to some friends, I got a rare opportunity to take a tour of the ship. The first thought was… she’s huge. HUGE! I haven’t been on any other carriers yet, so I can’t compare, but she’s bigger than any machine I have ever seen. True, there is rust on her LCVPs, and all armaments are gone, but it hasn’t done anything at all to reduce the grandiose of the ship.
We climbed up to the deck and it was a feeling beyond expressions. For the first time, in a long time, I felt elated. I stood there, slowly gulping in the feeling, I was standing on the deck of one of biggest machines that exist in the world. We walked the entire length of the deck and then climbed down to the hangar. A single sea harrier adorns the floor today, but once upon a time, there would be a total of 26 aircrafts and helicopters. I was interested to go to the boiler rooms too but then, that takes quite a while, so the idea was parked for a later visit someday.
I did not take my camera along, not knowing the permissions that I may be given. Had the mobile phone though 🙂
This was an experience that shall be in my heart for ever.
Me and a few friends, we went on a trip a few weeks earlier. An account of that shall follow soon.
Till then, cheers and Happy Diwali to all.