On July 23, 2016 aircraft carrier INS Virat, the second aircraft carrier of India after INS Vikrant, sailed under her own propulsion for the last time as she left Mumbai for Kochi for essential repairs and dry docking before being decommissioned later in 2016. As a mark of appreciation for her service, the aircraft carrier was escorted out of the harbour by Fast Interceptor Craft and helicopters. This would be the second and final decommissioning for Virat that earlier served the British Royal Navy for 27 years as HMS Hermes. Spares for the old carrier were becoming difficult to find, leading to the decision to decommission the 28,000 ton ship.
Once the necessary work is completed, she will call on all major Indian ports as a final salute.
INS Virat was commissioned into the Indian Navy May 12, 1987. Since then, many aircraft have flown more than 22,034 hours from her decks spending nearly 2,250 days at sea. In means that in six years she has covered the entire globe 27 times.
Her last operational deployment was during the International Fleet Review 2016. INS Virat is not just the oldest aircraft carrier but the oldest serving warship. She is affectionately referred to as Mother or the Grand Old Lady of the Indian Navy. INS Virat is replaced by INS Vikramaditya, commissioned in 2013.