Chennai: India's first air cushion vehicle or hovercraft was decommissioned on Saturday after 22 years of service. The ceremony took place at the Coast Guard Station in Tamil Nadu's Mandapam. According to ICG officials the vehicle will now be placed at the National Maritime Heritage Centre in Gujarat's Lothal.

Hovercrafts are used extensively in disaster relief efforts, and for military and surveillance applications. Such vehicles use blowers to produce a large volume of air below the hull - an air 'cushion' of sorts - that is slightly above the atmospheric pressure. This in turn causes ACVs to 'float' above the surface. The vehicles are capable of travelling over land, water mud, ice and other surfaces.

The Centre had announced plans to set up a museum dedicated to the country's 5,000-year maritime history in Lothal some time earlier. The foundation stone for the initiative by the Culture Ministry - in collaboration with the shipping and port ministry - was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the consent for the master plan was given in March 2019.

The multiphase project will begin with the construction of five galleries on 35 acres of land at an investment of ₹774.23 crore. Phase 1B will see the remaining portions of the museum built - including a light house, a 5D dome theatre and more.