The dismantling of the Indian Navy's former flagship, Viraat, (ex HMS Hermes) has been kept on hold by the country's Supreme Court, which also issued notice to the company that bought the ship from the government to be made into scrap. The Supreme Court's order comes on a petition by a group that offered to buy the decommissioned carrier and convert it into a museum.
A large portion of the carrier has already been dismantled when the order to stop work for now came in. Visuals show the forward area where the flight deck used to be sliced clean by the ship breaking company, exposing the metal innards of the carrier that was once the flagship of the Indian Navy.
India's Defense Ministry in December last year had formally rejected an eleventh-hour plan to try and save INS Viraat from being broken up for scrap by the ship breaker in Gujarat.
Envitech Marine Consultants Pvt Ltd has been looking to acquire the warship and convert INS Viraat into a maritime museum, parked off the coast of Goa in collaboration with the government of the small coastal state.
Shree Ram Group of Industries, a ship breaker based in Gujarat's Alang, had bought the decommissioned warship from the Indian Navy for scrap and opposed a potential sale to the group that wants to convert it into a museum.
Acquired from the UK in 1986 after an extensive refit, the INS Viraat came to define Indian naval power with its fleet of Sea Harrier fighter jets. Before that, INS Viraat had served as HMS Hermes in the Royal Navy and played a decisive role in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict when the UK went to war against Argentina in the South Atlantic.