Boat rams aircraft carrier INS Viraat near Cochin port

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Kochi, Nov 19: A boat operated by the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) collided with the aircraft carrier INS Viraat near the Cochin Port yesterday.

INS Viraat

The boat was ferrying 100-odd passengers to Vypeen when a German cruise liner 'Celebrity Solistice' suddenly left the Q berth at the port and entered the shipping channel without sounding a siren, KSWTD officials said.

Though the boat stopped midway, its crew lost control after the cruise liner's propellers caused a whirlpool. Consequently, the boat rammed INS Viraat around 4 pm.

The boat's roof was damaged but none of the passengers were hurt, the officials added. The water transport department has ordered an enquiry into the mishap.

'Celebrity Solistice' had arrived here on Nov 17 with nearly 2800 tourists and a 1250-strong crew. Yesterday, the cruise liner started its journey to Port Klang in Malaysia.

According to naval sources, the boat's collision with INS Viraat had not caused any damage to the latter. The Indian Navy's flagship was dry-docked at the Cochin Shipyard earlier this month.

The aircraft carrier's underwater equipment and hull are to be restored here as part of its periodic refit. A coat of corrosion-resistant paint will be applied on the hull, the sources said. The maintenance work is expected to be completed by Feb 2013.

INS Viraat was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987. The aircraft carrier was originally commissioned into the United Kingdom's Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on Nov 18, 1959.

During the Falklands Conflict between Argentina and the UK in 1982, HMS Hermes was the flagship of the Royal Navy's task force. In 1986, India bought the Centaur class vessel that displaces a staggering 28,000 tonnes.

Incidentally, the country's first ever Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) is being built at the Cochin Shipyard. Construction of the IAC has been delayed because some of the critical parts including the gear box are yet to be delivered.

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