HMS Hermes

Farewell To The World's Oldest Serving Aircraft Carrier

The First Sea Lord had flown to India for the decommissioning of Falklands flagship HMS Hermes...

HMS Hermes

HMS Hermes played a decorated role in the Falklands war but after 56 years of service, with both the British and Indian navies, the world's longest-serving aircraft carrier has been decommissioned. 

She was commissioned in 1953 and sailed almost 700,000 miles over her career (enough to circle the globe 28 times)

She was officially retired at a sunset ceremony in Mumbai and is now facing an uncertain future. 

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, was among a host of dignitaries on the flight deck as the carrier’s pennants were lowered for the final time.

INS Viraat, formerly HMS Hermes, decommissioned in Mumbai

Named after the winged messenger of the Greek gods and launched by Lady Churchill, HMS Hermes served with the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1984.

She was the flagship of the British taskforce to the Falklands and famously her crew assisted in the rescue of personnel from HMS Sheffield, which was struck by an Argentine Exocet missile.

After being bought by the India Navy, the carrier was reinvented as INS Viraat - meaning Mother - and served for a further 29 years. 

The carrier never saw further combat but played a key role in peacekeeping operations in Sri Lanka in 1989.

Indian Air Force Jaguars, Indian Navy Sea Harriers, and U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets, flying in formation over INS Viraat during Exercise Malabar

Following her retirement, India has struggled to find a buyer after plans to refit the ship as a luxury floating hotel and casino fell through. 

Admiral Sunil Lanba, Commander of the Indian Navy, has suggested she could face being broken up and sold for scrap if another buyer is not found within six months.