Relive the journey of INS Vikrant
THE JOURNEY TO INDIA
HMS Hercules was commissioned by the British Royal Navy during World War II. But the war ended before she was complete. In 1957, India purchased the ship and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru formally inducted INS Vikrant into the Indian Navy, in Bombay on Nov 3, 1961.
LIBERATION OF GOA
December 1961 saw INS Vikrant take part in her first active operation - the liberation of Goa from the Portuguese. She undertook numerous reconnaissance missions and was deployed as far as 75 miles off the coast to deter foreign intervention.
1971 Indo-Pak War
INS Vikrant had been docked for repairs as a crack developed in one of her boilers. Due to an embargo on parts, the boiler was bypassed by routing steam from her forward machinery to the catapult. She lost some cruising power but regained use of the launch pad. These modifications enabled Vikrant to join the war of independence in East Pakistan when pre-emptive air strikes on 11 Indian airbases by West Pakistan forced India to respond.
1971 Chittagong harbour ablaze
The Indian Navy successfully blockaded the Pakistani Navy thanks to INS Vikrant and her Sea Hawk fighter-bombers which relentlessly struck many coastal towns, including Chittagong and Cox's Bazaar. Not a single Pakistani vessel could be put to sea. It earned the crew of Vikrant, 2 Mahavir Chakras and 12 Vir Chakras.
Vikrant was given an extensive refit - including new engines, between 1979 and 1989. One of her most significant upgrades was the ability to operate BAe Sea Harriers which replaced the Sea Hawk. Post the retiring of her Breguet Alizé aircraft a 'ski jump' was installed that enabled the Sea Harriers to take off effortlessly.
1997 Decommissioned & Dismantled
Although she was India’s only aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant was formally decommissioned on Jan 31, 1997, with plans to preserve her as a museum. In 2012, the Indian Navy expressed its inability to maintain the aircraft carrier. INS Vikrant was subsequently sold for dismantling to the highest bidder.