Light Fleet Carrier
Ex Elephant 

Currently INS Viraat (India)

HMS Hermes was built by Vickers-Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness, and laid down 21 June 1944a s one of the "Centaur" class light fleet carriers. She was not launched until 16 February 1953, being laid up a further 4 years awaiting completion. Completed 18 November 1959.

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 of 1981, she was paid off 12 April 1984. Stricken 1 July 1985.

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HMS Hermes 1946

The Hermes was sold to India 19 April 1986, and after a major refit at Devonport before transfer, the carrier, now renamed INS Viraat (R22), was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987. She was formally commissioned 15 February 1989. 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. INS Viraat in 2001 was the only remaining Indian carrier, is due for retirement by 2010 following an extensive Rs3 billion (US$71.4 million) modernisation programme that began 1999. INS Viraat underwent sea trials in December 2000 and will complete its refit by May 2001.(see reference).

Battle Honours
None in World War II. Falklands 1981.


None in World War II.

Squadrons and Aircraft
None in World War II.

Associations and Reunions

HMS Hermes Association: Reunion at Royal Fleet Club, Plymouth from 5th to 8th April, 2001.

HMS Hermes Reunion. C/O Royal Fleet Club, Plymouth. 2001

Carrier name HMS Hermes (ex Elephant) Sold and renamed INS Viraat 1986 (India) 
Class (Modified Centaur Class)
Type Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier
Ships in Class Albion, Centaur, Hermes, Bulwark, Elephant, Monmouth, Arrogant & Polyphemus
Launched Laid down June 1944. Launched February 1953. Laid up until 1957. Completed November 1959. 
Tonnage Displacement: 23,000 tons standard ; 27,800 tons full load
Engines Propulsion: 4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 2 shafts, Parsons geared turbines, 76,000 shp
Speed in Knots Speed: 28 knots
Armament Armament: 5 twin Bofors 40 mm ; 4 single 3 pdr saluting guns
Crew Complement Complement: 2100 (including air group)
Range  Range: 5,040 nmiles at 20 knots ; 3,500 tons fuel oil
Length (ft/inches) Dimensions: 774.75 oa x 147.9 x 27.8 feet
Beam (ft/inches)  
Draught (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck length (ft/inches)  
Flight Deck width (ft/inches)  
Armour Armour: 1 to 2 inch flight deck
Number of aircraft carried Aircraft: up to 28
Fate of carrier Paid off April 1984. Stricken July 1985. Sold to India April 1986. Commissioned into Indian Navy May 1987, formally commissioned February 1989. 
Notes Due to differences in completion and refits, the technical details for Centaur and Hermes are listed individually.

Eight ships of the Centaur class were ordered during the second world war as enlarged follow-ons to the Majestics, with more powerful machinery allowing fleet speeds. Four ships (Hermes, Monmouth, Arrogant & Polyphemus) were cancelled in October 1945, the first two of which had been laid down and were broken up on the slipway. To maintain the famous carrier name, one of the ships to be completed, Elephant, was renamed Hermes. Of the four ships completed only the first, Centaur, was completed to the original design with an axial flight deck although a small extension was soon added to allow an angled landing area. 

Paid off for conversion to amphibious-assault helicopter carrier at Devonport Dockyard 14 July 1970. Conversion similar to Albion and Bulwark. Recommissioned at Devonport 18 August 1973, replacing Albion.

FURTHER INFORMATION and the Viraat   R 11 Vikrant ex R 49 Hercules old to India ./57 transferred Mar.4/61 refit ./79-./82 refir ./82-./83 ski jump added ./89 DECOM Jan.31/97 in reserve INS Virrant ex HMS Hermes STATUS R 22 Virrant modified Centaur class ship Served in Falklands Apr.5-Jul.22/82 paid off Apr.12/84 stricken Jul.1/85

Honour regained - Carriers of the Falklands War
VIRAAT CLASS in Indian website details of the former HMS Hermes, now the INS Viraat
World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway
Sturtivant, R & Ballance, T  (1994). 'The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1994 ISBN: 0 85130 223 8

The Worldís Warships 1941 by Francis E. McMurtrie (1944). Jane's London 1941 1st ed. 

Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II by Francis E. McMurtrie (Editor)(1984). 320 pages. Crescent Books; ISBN: 0517679639

        Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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