Saturday, April 17, 2010

philatelic tribute to hermes/viraat 1




R 22 Viraat Class
HMS Centaur Class (UK)
Aircraft Carrier
In 1985, the second hand, 1953 vintage, British aircraft carrier HMS HERMES, became available for acquisition. It had already been operating Sea Harriers. After Government approved its acquisition and refit, it was commissioned as INS VIRAAT on 12 May 1987. After Vikrant, the second aircraft carrier INS Viraat was commissioned in the Indian Navy with great hopes.
The ship is all set to meet future challenges in the Indian Ocean zone with her operational prowess matching her name. Viraat is fitted with a ‘ski jump’ enabling the Sea Harrier VSTOL jump jets to take off from the flight deck with greater payload. The carrier would also have Sea King helicopters embarked for providing anti-submarine cover. The standard displacement of INS Viraat is 28, 500 tons and she is propelled by steam turbines with 76,000 shaft horsepower.
This ship was originally as a Royal Navy light fleet carrier named the HMS Hermes. It is currently India's only aircraft carrier. While in the Royal Navy the ship served in a variety of functions including service as a light fleet carrier, an ASW carrier and as a commando carrier. The ship was converted to a VSTOL carrier in 1980 and still has a ski-jump at the bow.
The Indian carrier Viraat has a somewhat convoluted design and service history. Originally HMS Hermes, she was laid down in 1944 as one of the Royal Navy's 'Centaur' class of light fleet carriers. Incomplete at the end of World War II, the vessel remained on the stocks for a decade. New developments in carrier design meant that the vessel which entered service in the late 1950s was equipped with an angled flight deck. In 1971 the Hermes was recommissioned as a commando carrier, and then in the late 1970s as an interim V/STOL carrier. After serving as the flagship of the Royal Navy's task force during the Falklands war, the Hermes was sold to India in May 1986.
The ship was purchased by India in 1986, the carrier, now renamed Viraat, was commissioned-into the Indian Navy in 1987. The current air group includes 12 or 18 Sea Harrier V/STOL fighters and seven or a eight Sea King or Kamov 'Hormone' ASW helicopters. In emergencies, the Viraat can operate up to 30 Harriers. At present, the INS Viraat carries a complement of Sea Harrier aircraft, which are wired for Sea Eagle Anti-Ship Missiles (ASMs) and Matra 550 Magic missiles and various choppers like the Sea King for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Search-And-Rescue (SAR) and transport. It is fitted by the "Barak" missile point defense system made by Israel.
The Viraat would need to be replaced by 2010 due to the vessel's extreme age. It completed a major refit at Cochin Shipyards from 1999 through April 2001. This refit extended the ship's service life until 2010 and included upgrades to the ship's propulsion systems, its radar suite, communications systems, elevator upgrades, and new weapon systems.
Flagship of the Indian Navy, INS Viraat (R-22) put into major refit in late 2003 and took more than a year to become fighting fit again. The 45-year-old carrier was in dry-dock at Kochi for most of the year. Elaborate repairs and refitting had to be carried out on India's lone aircraft carrier in dry dock to keep it going. The consolation is that the Barak missile defence system was installed and validated on Viraat as it now returns to service. The 23,900-ton vessel had to be tugged back to dry dock for a rehab barely two years after an extensive life-extension, which was intended to give it a 10-year lease of life. The Viraat was unavailable to the Navy for two years during this period. In November 2004 INS Viraat returned to operational service after a year-long repairs. Although sea-trials and flying operations had been carried out between the end of 2004 and early 2005, the carriers first full scale naval exercise was however only conducted on March 27, 2005, off the coast of Mumbai.
As of 2005 it was reported that the INS Viraat would be retired in the next four years, before 2010. In November 2007, with indications of delay in the delivery of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov from Russia, a top official said the Indian Navy will carry out a "normal" refurbishment of INS Viraat to extend its life. "There is a slippage of around one to one-and-half years in the delivery of Gorshkov due to various reasons. Virat has life in it and we will be carrying out a year-long refit starting early next year so that the ship is healthy till Gorshkov comes," Flag Officer, Commanding-in-chief Western Naval command J S Bedi said. On 05 January 2007, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta was reported to have said that INS Viraat would steam on for another seven years, until 2013.
Viraat moved into Cochin Shipyard's dry dock late in 2008 to undergo the mandatory maintenance refit and repair and it was planned to stay there until the end of June 2009. On 12 May 2009, INS Viraat would complete 23 years of its service with the Indian Navy. Taking into account its British Royal Navy service in its earlier avatar as HMS Hermes, the warship will complete 50 years on 18 November 2009.
In 2009 there were reports that, after the current round of repairs was concluded, India might keep the aircraft carrier in service until 2015. By then, thewarship would have completed 55 years of service, over twice its initially estimated sailing life of 25 years. At that time the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) seemed likely to be fully operational sometime in 2015, which was reason to keep INS Viraat operational untill then, according to un-named Navy officers.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


HMS Hermes (R12)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Career (United Kingdom)
Builder: Vickers-Armstrong

Laid down: 21 June 1944
Launched: 16 February 1953
Commissioned: 25 November 1959
Decommissioned: N/A
Struck: 1985
Homeport: HMNB Portsmouth

Fate: Sold to India in 1986. Active in service as INS Viraat

Notes: Pennant = R12,

General characteristics
Displacement: 23,000 tonnes standard 2; 28,000 tonnes Full Load
Length: 236.14 m
Beam: 45.10 m
Draught: 27.8 ft (8.5 m)
Propulsion: 2 Parson turbines, 76,000 shp (57 MW)
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h)
Range: 7,000 nautical miles at 18 knots (13,000 km at 33 km/h)
Complement: 2,100
Armament: 10 × 40 mm Bofors
Aircraft carried: Up to 1970:12 Sea Vixens, 7 Buccaneers, 5 Gannets and 6 Wessex
After 1980: up to 28 Sea Harriers

HMS Hermes (R12) was a Centaur-class British aircraft carrier, the last of the postwar conventional aircraft carriers commissioned into the Royal Navy.
• 1 Construction and modifications
• 2 Operations
o 2.1 Proposed transfer to Australia
o 2.2 Proposed International Fleet
o 2.3 Falklands War
o 2.4 Viraat
• 3 Complement
• 4 References
• 5 External links

Construction and modifications
She was laid down by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness during WW II as HMS Elephant. Construction was suspended in 1945 but work was resumed in 1952 to clear the slipway and the hull was launched on 16 February 1953. The vessel remained unfinished until 1957, when she entered service on 18 November 1959 as HMS Hermes after extensive modifications which included installation of a massive Type 984 'searchlight' 3D radar.
Proposed transfer to Australia
A 1966 review indicating that Hermes was surplus to operational requirements and was offered to the Royal Australian Navy as a replacement for HMAS Melbourne. In 1968, Hermes took part in a combined exercise with the RAN, during which the carrier was visited by senior RAN officers and Australian government officials, while RAN Skyhawks and Trackers practiced landings on the larger carrier.[1] The offer was turned down due to operating and manpower costs.
Proposed International Fleet
Hermes served as one of four Royal Navy strike carriers mainly in the Indian Ocean area until 1970. She could have seen action against the Egyptians when Egypt closed off the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping in May 1967. The UK and US contemplated forming an international fleet to open the strait with force if necessary,[2] but the idea never materialised.
Final CATOBAR air wing 1968-1970[3]
• 801 sqn. 7 Buccaneer S2 Strike
• 893 sqn. 12 Sea Vixen FAW2 All-Weather Fighter
• 849 sqn. A flt. 4 Gannet AEW3 Airborne Early Warning
• 849 sqn. 1 Gannet COD4 Carrier Onboard Delivery
• 814 sqn. 5 Wessex HAS3 Anti-Submarine Warfare
• Ships Flight 1 Wessex HAS1 Search and Rescue
Refitted at Portsmouth 1980 to June 1981, 12-degree ski-jump and facilities for operating Sea Harriers were added.
• 800 sqn. 8 Sea Harrier FRS1 Fighter
• 826 sqn. 9 Sea King HAS5 ASW
Falklands War
Hermes was due to be decommissioned in 1982 after a defence review by the British government, but when the Falklands War broke out, she was made the flagship of the British forces, setting sail for the South Atlantic just three days after the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. Hermes carried as many as 26 BAe Sea Harrier FRS.Mk.1 jets of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, Harrier GR.Mk.3 4 jets of the Royal Air Force, and 10 Sea King MK4s and MK5s as well as a troop of Special Air Service (SAS) and Royal Marines. As she was the RN's largest carrier, she was considered too valuable to risk close into the Falklands, due to the possibility of Argentinian AF attacks. Her Harriers therefore operated at the limit of their endurance radius, but were very successful in keeping the enemy aircraft at bay. After her return home from the Falklands conflict Hermes entered into a much needed 4 month refit until November 1982. She then took part in NATO exercises in the North Atlantic, and the Med Sea as a Commando Carrier. In the autumn of 1983 she took part in her last exercise, Ocean Safari, where she reverted back to a strike carrier role, embarking 12 Sea Harriers, 10 RAF Harrier GR3s and 10 Sea King MK5s. After this exercise she returned to the UK for a minor refit and into maintain reserve in February 1984.
In 1983, when the proposed sale of HMS Invincible to the Royal Australian Navy was cancelled following the Falklands War, an offer was made to sell Hermes and a squadron of Sea Harriers to Australia. However the new Hawke government decided against purchasing a replacement for HMAS Melbourne.[4]
She served with the Royal Navy until 12 April 1984. She was paid off in 1985 and in April 1986 she was refitted and sold to India and recommissioned as the INS Viraat in 1989.

HMS Hermes in 1982
Her typical aircraft complement in the late 1960s consisted of 12 Sea Vixen FAW2s, 7 Buccaneer S2s, 4 Gannet AEW3s, 1 Gannet COD4, 5 Wessex HAS3s and 1 Wessex HAS1. She was recommissioned as a commando carrier in 1973, as an ASW carrier in 1976 (carrying around 20 or so Sea King and Wessex helicopters), and then as a V/STOL carrier in 1981. Hermes initial complement of aircraft as a V/STOL carrier was 5 Harriers and 12 Sea King helicopters, though she had the capacity for up to a total of 37 aircraft.
1. Hobbs, Commander David (October 2007). "HMAS Melbourne (II) - 25 Years On". The Navy 69 (4): 5–9. ISSN 1332-6231.
2. The international naval task force proposal in May 1967
4. Retrieved 2008-05-27.

• Maritimequest HMS Hermes photo gallery

v • d • e
Centaur-class aircraft carrier

Royal Navy
Albion • Bulwark • Centaur • Hermes

Indian Navy
Viraat (ex-HMS Hermes)

List of aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy


Sunday, April 4, 2010

A special cover is being sposored by me on the occasion of NATIONAL MARITME DAY, on 5th April 2010. The INDIA POST will issue a special cancellation featuring a line sketch of s.s. Loyalty, the first ship of Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. which sailed from Mumbai (then Bombay) for Europe and U.K., on 5th April, 1919 carrying passengers,there by reviving the Indian Maritime Heritage, destroyed by the british who ruled India for two centuries.
Soft launch. Covers for NPS LIFE MEMBERS- 1 cover free, additional covers Rs 15/- inclusive of ordinary postage and handling. Covers to public- Rs. 25/- inclusive of ordinary postage and handling.
Covers can be obtained through mail order from Cdr (retd) U.N Acharya, Flat B, Deep Apartments, 5th cross, Atmananda Colony, Bangalore 560032.