Goodbye, INS Vikrant
Twenty seconds of heartbreak. A dozer yanks the ski jump head off of INS Vikrant as her scrapping begins in Mumbai (Vikrant was fitted with a ski jump in the late 1980s to ease Sea Harrier operations). Truly sad to see her go. Sure, some would argue that its best to let old relics fade away. Somehow, the Vikrant wasn’t just an old relic. It was India’s first aircraft carrier. It was involved in an unforgettable cat and mouse hunt during the 1971 war. And most of all, it was going to be possible to keep her alive as a privately funded museum with almost no public expense.
The British Majestic-class aircraft carrier, was transferred to the Indian Navy in 1961, serving 36 years before being decommissioned in 1997. Languishing as a half-hearted, mostly out-of-bounds relic at the Mumbai naval dockyard for nearly two decades, she was finally towed to a south Mumbai shipbreaking yard, where they began ripping her up late last week.
When I went on board Vikrant in 2011, she had just been cleaned up and renovated in preparation for a possible private buyout for conversion into a museum-cum-event venue. None of that worked out.
So, over the next eight months, a ship steeped in history, will be cold rolled into those twisted steel bars for building construction work.
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