THE Royal Navy’s flagship during the Falklands War is to be scrapped and turned into razor blades after a bid to turn her into a floating hotel collapsed.
The former HMS Hermes – now known as INS Viraat – served through six decades and in two different navies after being sold to India in 1987.
However, the 23,000-tonne Centaur-class warship was decommissioned by the Indian Navy in 2017 and left in limbo.
A multimillion-pound campaign had been launched to try and save the aircraft carrier from the breakers’ yard by converting her into a 600-bed, five-star hotel.
However, India was unable to find the £90m to convert Hermes and the nation’s government has now announced Hermes will be scrapped.
The news has left former Royal Navy sailors in Portsmouth dismayed.
Falkland veteran Chris Purcell, of Fratton – who served on HMS Sheffield during the war – was saddened by the news.
He said: ‘Many a ship involved in the Falklands has gone to razor blades. It’s a real shame.
‘The government should’ve helped or we should’ve had some lottery funding to preserve at least one of the ships from the Falklands.
‘So it’s very sad Hermes can’t be saved. But it’s almost like an inevitability now.’
Mr Purcell added he was part of the crowd when Hermes made her triumphant return to Portsmouth after the war.
‘She was such a loved ship,’ he added. ‘The amount of people that turned out to see her – whether they had served on her or just to support her coming back from conflict – was unbelievable.’
India's defence minister, Shripad Naik said ‘in the consideration of safety, security and other factors, a decision to scrap INS Viraat was taken after consultation with the Indian Navy’, the Times of India reported.
In 2017, a campaign had been launched by Falklands veteran Andy Trish, from Cornwall, who attempted to buy the ship off the Indian government.
Mr Trish said he was still eager to save Hermes and tow her back to Britain.
‘She's in really good nick and would need a paint job – and that's about it,’ he told Plymouth Live. ‘We could be up and running for about £15m to £20m.’