Vice Admiral SPS Cheema takes over as FOC-in-C (West)

March 31, 2015 Photo(s): By Indian Navy
Vice Admiral Anil Chopra and Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema during the ceremony with Vice Admiral AR Karvey, Chief of Staff, Headquarter Western Naval Command, in the background
Vice Admiral Anil Chopra addressing to the personnel on parade
Vice Admiral Anil Chopra takes the salute
Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema, inspecting the ceremonial parade
Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema, inspecting the ceremonial parade

Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema took over the reins of Western Naval Command (WNC) as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) on 31 Mar 15 from Vice Admiral Anil Chopra at a ceremonial parade held at INS Shikra. Later in the day, Officers of the Western Naval Command accorded Vice Admiral Chopra a warm send off, with the traditional ‘Pulling Out’ ceremony, marking the completion of his four decades plus service to the nation and the Navy.

Vice Admiral Cheema has a very good grip of the command as he has had the experience and exposure of serving at Mumbai in various capacities over the last four decades or so. Of the five frontline and prestigious ships that he has commanded three have been at Mumbai. These have been the Missile Boat INS Nishank, the Guided Missile Frigate INS Trishul and the only Aircraft Carrier the Indian Navy had at that time, INS Viraat. Vice Admiral Cheema then went on to command the Sword Arm of the Indian Navy — the Western Fleet which was followed by his appointment as the Chief of Staff of the Western Naval Command.

Besides extended tenures at sea and operational billets, Vice Admiral Cheema has had a very wide and diverse exposure to various critical responsibilities in the higher ranks of his service. He is a seasoned campaigner and has the unique distinction of shouldering responsibilities as a Commander-in-Chief for the fourth time over which is a record of sorts in the Armed Forces. His first appointment as a C-in-C was as the head of the Tri Services HQs at Delhi as CISC, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee. He was an ideal candidate for the job having discharged two critical duties as a Principal Staff Officer (PSO) in the same Tri Services HQs. The first being Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (DCIDS) (Perspective Planning and Force Development) {DCIDS (PP & FD)}, where he held the responsibility of handling acquisitions for all three services. The second being DCIDS (Doctrine, Organisation and Training). His second tenure as a C-in-C was the prestigious and sensitive Command of the Strategic Forces of India (SFC). He thereafter commanded the Southern Naval Command at Kochi prior being appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command.

Besides the Param Vishist Seva Medal and the Athi Vishist Seva Medal, both for distinguished service, Cheema has earned ‘Mention in Despatches’ for duty in the face of enemy during operations in Sri Lanka in 1989 and has also been awarded the Nau Sena Medal (Gallantry) while commanding the Indian Naval Ship ‘Nishank’.