Falklands Flagship To Become Luxury Hotel
Britain's flagship from the Falklands War is set for a new role - as a luxury floating hotel moored in the Bay of Bengal.
The aircraft carrier HMS Hermes was the last of the Centaur-class carriers and is possibly the longest serving warship in the world.
Named after the winged messenger of the Greek gods, she was in service with the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1984.
The ship eventually reinvented herself as the Indian Navy's INS Viraat (meaning 'giant' in Sanskrit), serving for a further 29 years (becoming the world's longest serving aircraft carrier) and still showing value despite all the modern upgrades to today's ‘digital’ ships, with the onset of 3D printed technology and autonomous robots.
INS Viraat sailing through the Bay of Bengal during a 2007 exercise
It was announced in January that she would be retired from duty after almost 60 years in service, as maintaining her was becoming too expensive.
And now, the state of Andhra Pradesh, on India’s east coast, has bought her for a nominal fee of one rupee, which is worth less than a penny.
It'll spend £85 million turning it into one of India's finest hotels and tourist attractions, with an opening date set for two years’ time.
Among the amenities the five-star hotel will boast will be at least five restaurants, 600 rooms, a night club, luxury suites, swimming pools and conference rooms.
Watch Above: Carrier Strike Force - A Trip Back To The Cold War With HMS Hermes
The huge, 13-storey structure, which is expected to retain the name Viraat, could also be anchored several miles off the coast so that it can operate a casino. Gambling establishments are currently banned on mainland India and in local waters.
People will get to it via speedboat, or VIPs via helicopter, with a museum on board informing guests about the history of the 24,000-ton ship.
It's yet another twist in Hermes' long and illustrious history.
She was set to be decommissioned in 1982 after a defence review which would have made the RN considerable smaller, but fate intervened in the shape of the Falklands War.
Instead Hermes found herself heading to the South Atlantic carrying 12 Sea Harrier jets and 18 Sea King helicopters, after Argentine forces invaded the Falkland Islands.
Famously, the crew of Hermes assisted in the rescue of personnel from HMS Sheffield, which was struck by an Argentine exocet missile.
Her fame increased further after BBC journalist Brian Hanrahan 'counted out' the Harrier Jump Jets flying from her on an attack on Port Stanley Airfield, and then 'counted them all back' so as not to give away military secrets to the enemy. He said:
"I’m not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back."
After the war ended Hermes returned to Portsmouth to a rapturous welcome from members of the public and relatives of the 1,700-strong crew.