Navy's first carrier Vikrant headed for scrapyard

Mumbai, Dec 3 : Once the proud and feared queen of the high seas, retired aircraft carrier Vikrant is set to be re-auctioned by the defence ministry after attempts to maintain it as a museum have failed, a top navy official said Tuesday.

"It is sad. But yes, we have initiated the process to e-auction it after the Maharashtra government communicated to us that they are not in a position to convert her into a permanent museum," Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha told media persons here.

Now rechristened as Indian Museum Ship (IMS) Vikrant, it is proposed to be disposed of on the "as is where is basis", Sinha said.

The bids for disposal of IMS Vikrant will open for four hours from Dec 18 noon. A bid amount of Rs.3.10 crore will be needed to take part in the e-auction.

The Maharashtra government had earlier announced that it would help convert the warship with a glorious history into a permanent museum and even proposed a revenue model for her upkeep.

However, over the years, it gradually lost interest and expressed inability to support the venture.

"Until now, the Indian Navy managed her. But now that the state government has made it clear that they cannot support her, the MoD has decided to auction it," Sinha added.

The IMS Vikrant, which saw service with the Indian Navy as the prestigious carrier INS Vikrant, goes back in history to the Second World War. She was built in 1943 and originally joined the British Navy as Royal Navy Ship Hermes.

She was inducted into the Indian Navy as INS Vikrant and for 36 years guarded the seas of India besides playing a major role during the 1971 India-Pakistan war. She was decommissioned in 1997.

Sinha said that he was one of the last officers who had flown aboard the INS Vikrant during her heydays and hoped that the bidder would convert her into a museum.

"The Indian Navy would render all possible help... Too many memories are attached to her. But it all depends on the person winning the bid... whether she would sail into the books or remain present for the future generations," he said.

Earlier, the carrier had gone under an auctioneer's hammer for Rs.58 million in 1999, but was saved from being condemned at the last minute after the intervention of then Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

--IANS (Posted on 03-12-2013)

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