The new owner of decommissioned warship of the Indian Navy INS Viraat has sought Rs 100 crore from a Mumbai-based firm which is making last ditch efforts to save the warship from being dismantled and to convert it into a museum.
The Shree Ram Group had bought INS Viraat, the aircraft carrier which was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987 and decommissioned in 2017, for a sum of Rs 38.54 crore at an auction in July this year.
The warship, which is the symbol of India’s rich maritime heritage, reached the ship-breaking yard at Alang on Gujarat coast last week.
Since INS Viraat was bought as scrap in an auction, aspiring buyers would also need to procure a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Defence to buy the ship now, Shree Ram Group Chairman Mukesh Patel said on 2 October.
“I bought this warship just out of my love for my country. Now, a Mumbai-based company wants to convert this ship it into a museum. Since they are also doing it out of patriotism, I agreed to sell the ship to them,” Patel said. “But, they need to first procure NOC from the defence ministry, without which I can’t re-sell the ship,” he said.
Patel said he had first demanded Rs 125 crore for the relic of INS Viraat and then agreed to sell it for Rs 100 crore considering that the company’s cause is noble.
Patel said it is a limited period offer and he would wait only till next week. “I am told the interested firm is trying hard to get the NOC. But, I can’t wait forever. I will wait for another week. After that, I will start the dismantling process,” he added.
VK Sharma, the managing director of Envitech Marine Consultants Pvt Ltd, has shown interest in buying the warship. He had earlier expressed confidence of getting an NOC from the Centre so that INS Viraat can be converted into a museum.
Sharma had claimed he had received support from the Goa government in this patriotic endeavour.
“We are trying our best to get the NOC and we are confident of getting it soon. I had personally met Mukeshbhai and we both agreed on a price of the ship,” Sharma said.
INS Viraat, the world’s longest serving warship that was decommissioned by the Indian Navy three years ago, arrived at Alang in Gujarat from Mumbai last week for dismantling. It is the second aircraft carrier slated to be broken down in India. In 2014, INS Vikrant was dismantled in Mumbai.
The 70-year-old aircraft carrier, in its earlier avatar, had won the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982 for the Royal British Navy.
INS Viraat weighs about 27,800 tonnes. The decommissioned aircraft carrier had served the British Navy as HMS Hermes from November 1959 to April 1984 and after refurbishment, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987.