Despite chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s interest in the project, the state government may not be able to turn Indian Navy’s oldest warship INS Viraat into a museum due to the high cost of the proposed project which is estimated to cost around Rs 1,000 crore.
Last year, the state had asked the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) to earmark at least 750 acres of land for the museum project and plans were proposed to turn INS Viraat into a floating hotel on the lines of Lake Palace, a hotel in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Sources from the defence wing said the Indian Navy had itself proposed to convert INS Viraat into an underwater marine museum for sea divers.
“There are no official talks between the state and the Union defence ministry over the conversion of the decommissioned INS Viraat into a museum in Vizag city. As a result, we are working on some other project,” a senior rank officer confirmed.
The Indian Navy is searching for major tourist harbours for the marine museum project. If the plans fail, the ship will be sent to the scrapyard at Alang in Gujarat and sold as scrap.
INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987, and since then, the ship served as the flagship of the western fleet. With an overall length of 227 metres, breadth of 46 metres and displacement of 29000 tonnes, the ship is capable of carrying 30 aircraft in various configurations. INS Viraat is a conventional steam propelled ship and routinely operates at sea for durations upwards of three months at a time, while sustaining speeds up to 28 knots. The ship has a complement of 150 officers and 1500 sailors complete with attendant logistics infrastructure.