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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

INS Viraat ready for President Patil's 'day out at sea'

President Pratibha Patil (

Mumbai: President Pratibha Patil will experience her first 'day at sea' when she steps aboard India's lone aircraft carrier INS Viraat Wednesday, an Indian Navy official said.

INS Viraat

The president, who is also the supreme commander of the country's armed forces and the first woman in the post, will board the vessel around 11 a.m.

"The supreme commander will be on board the warship as it is anchored offshore Mumbai. She will be flown to the aircraft carrier," the official said.

Patil will be inspecting the warship that in November rejoined service at its parent base in Mumbai after a year-long refurbishment at Visakhapatnam.

During her nearly three-hour visit to the aircraft carrier, which completed 50 years of service this year, the president will witness flights by naval fighter jets Sea Harriers.

Patil's sojourn on Viraat comes soon after she became the first woman to fly in an Indian Air Force fighter jet. The flight in the IAF frontline fighter jet Sukhoi Su-30 was on Nov 25.

The president will also conduct a Fleet Review next year. Every president conducts a Fleet Review once during his/her tenure.

The 28,000-tonne INS Viraat, the Centaur class aircraft carrier, was originally commissioned in the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes Nov 18, 1959. The Indian Navy acquired the platform in 1987 after it had served the British Navy for nearly 28 years.

INS Viraat is pivotal to the navy's aim to project its naval and air power beyond its borders. It provides operation ground for Sea Harrier combat jets. It can embark up to 18 combat aircraft and is suited for supporting amphibious operations and conducting anti-submarine warfare.

Source: IANS

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