|INS Viraat was originally commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes on 18 November 1959. During her career as the Hermes, she served as the flagship of the Royal Navy's taskforce in the Falklands Island campaign. She would serve the Royal Navy another three years until she was stricken from active duty in 1985.|
The Indian Navy purchased the vessel in April 1986 and gave it an extensive refit at the Davenport Dockyard to allow for continued operability into the next decade. New fire control equipment, navigation radars, improved NBC protection, and deck landing aids were installed in this refit. Boilers were converted to operate on distillate fuel. In September 1993, the engine room of the Viraat flooded temporarily put the vessel out of service for several months. By 1995, the vessel was back in service and had a new search radar.