Ex-Royal Navy aircraft carrier goes up for auction - but nobody puts a bid in

PLANS to sell off a former Royal Navy aircraft carrier are in tatters after an auction failed to find a buyer.

Friday, 27th December 2019, 2:24 pm
Updated Monday, 30th December 2019, 3:17 pm

INS Viraat, formerly known as HMS Hermes, was put up for an online auction last week after the Indian Navy attempted to flog it off.

In April 1986, HMS Hermes was handed over to India in a deal worth around £65m, before being decommissioned in March 2017.

The auction started at midday, but was called off in the evening as a buyer could not be found.

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HMS Hermes, now known as INS Viraat. Picture: L(Phot) Des Wade

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Plans had been put forward to convert the vessel into a maritime museum and marine adventure centre, but this also fell through.

Now, as her owners reconsider their options, Gosport maritime expert and retired Lieutenant Commander Mike Critchley said the historic ship could be destined for the scrapheap.

He said: ‘It’s not really surprising that a buyer couldn’t be found.

HMS Hermes passing Bath Square, Old Portsmouth, on her return from the Falklands war, July 1982.

‘There have been a number of proposals over the years but they've never materialised – it’s tough to make the books balance for projects like this.

‘The cash required to keep a vessel like this afloat is huge, let alone the manpower. It’s a massive operation and I don’t think anyone is really up to the job.’

HMS Hermes was the last of the Centaur-class vessels in the Royal Navy and the flagship of the British forces during the Falklands War.

A deposit of £56,680 was required to enter the auction bidding.

Mr Critchley said other countries may have been more interested in preserving the warship.

But he added: ‘You can’t preserve everything.

‘The USA throws money at all sorts of old carriers and battleships, but I doubt the Indian government have it quite so high on their list of priorities.’

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