‘Offset is a fairly complex process’

“The Navy stands committed to providing stability, not just to the IOR, but also for safeguarding our interests across the oceans,” said Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral D.K. Joshi while addressing the media on the eve of Navy Day. The Navy Chief said that coastal security continues to remain an important aspect of the Navy’s comprehensive approach towards maritime security. Excerpts of the communication with SP’s Naval Forces Editor-in-Chief Jayant Baranwal:

Issue: 6 / 2012

Jayant Baranwal (JB): Coastal security continues to be a weak link in India’s maritime domain. What steps have been taken or need to be taken to strengthen this part of the national security apparatus?

Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS): The Navy has been given the overall responsibility of maritime security including coastal security. It is in the public domain. However, different sections of the media project it differently. There are two paradigms to it—inter-governmental coordination and hardware. Inter-governmental coordination is a very complex issue and we faced many complex challenges coordinating as there are too many departments involved including fisheries, customs, immigration, agriculture, etc. The Fisheries Department in many states are under the state Agriculture Department. It took a great amount of time to overcome the challenges in inter-governmental coordination, but now it has been resolved and is at an outstanding level. The involvement of the Cabinet Secretariat has helped resolve many inter-departmental issues. The second paradigm, hardware, impacts not only the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard but also the coastal states having the task of enhancing coastal security. Things are much better now and not like it were three-four years back, and it will continue to improve.

JB: What in your perception are the maritime security challenges emerging in the Indian Ocean region and beyond?

CNS: Our maritime security challenges include coastal security, piracy, the developing circumstances in the Gulf region, ingress of other navies into our region, etc. We are continuously evolving and preparing to face all challenges.

JB: What step is the Indian Navy taking to exploit space-based capabilities for the conduct of operations in the future?

CNS: There are thoughts of having a Joint-Services Command for the purpose.

JB: As CNS, what are your views on the offset policy and implementation of the modernisation programmes? How satisfactory is it?

CNS: Offset is a fairly complex process. If we look at the countries where it has been implemented, it has been quite challenging. It is an evolving process. It was not possible to absorb the amount of offset which was being offered. It is being implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs (internal security) and Ministry of Civil Aviation and in Ministry of Defence, it will be done but in an evolving process. The process has to be continuously reviewed and additional sectors have to be opened.

JB: Is the Indian Navy looking for unmanned combat aerial vehicles?

CNS: The Indian Navy already has experience of operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and yes we are currently looking for weaponsied versions of UAVs.

Excerpts from CNS’ Navy Day Address

  • Modernisation and enhancement of the Navy’s capabilities is an ongoing process to meet emerging maritime challenges/threats. These include aircraft carriers, stealth frigates, destroyers, corvettes, amphibious ships and submarines. Indian Navy would also be inducting state-of-the-art aircraft and helicopters to augment our surveillance and integral aviation capabilities. Our preferred choice of inducting ships and submarines has been through the indigenous route and of the 44 ships and submarines presently on order, 42 are from the Indian shipyards, including private shipyards.
  • Over the next five years, we expect to induct ships/submarines at an average rate of five-six ships per year. Amongst the major projects, under construction in Indian shipyards, are ships of Kolkata class (P-15A), P-15B ships which are an advanced version of the Kolkata class and the P-75 submarines, all at the Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai. Anti-surface warfare corvettes are being series built at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd. Kolkata. In addition, naval offshore patrol vessels are under construction both at public and private sector shipyards. The construction of the indigenous aircraft carrier though delayed is now picking up pace at the Cochin Shipyard. In 2013, we expect to induct one Kolkata class destroyer, one P-28 ASW corvette, one catamaran hull survey vessel, one offshore patrol vessel (OPV) and 16 fast interceptor craft.
  • Amongst the overseas projects, there has been a delay in the delivery of Vikramaditya, which has sailed for more than 100 days in the recent past and completed a majority of its equipment and aviation trials. The revised schedule envisages the delivery of the ship in the last quarter of 2013.
  • The scheduled induction of P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft commencing 2013 would augment the aerial surveillance capability, thereby enhancing the maritime domain awareness in Indian Ocean region and Indian Navy’s area of interest.
  • The Navy is facing a shortfall in both uniformed and civilian personnel. We are making all efforts in conducting special recruitment drives to make good the shortfalls. Shortages of service personnel are also being progressively reduced through additional recruitments.
  • We are committed to create and sustain a combat ready technology-enabled and networked force, capable of safeguarding our maritime interests and projecting combat power across the littorals. We seek to evolve relevant conceptual frameworks and acquire the war-fighting capabilities to operate across the full spectrum of conflict on sustained basis. Ensuring combat readiness will therefore remain our primary focus. We will also be prepared to undertake benign and humanitarian tasks in our region, whenever required. Our operational endeavours shall be underpinned by continuous upgradation of our human skills and a willingness to transform as required by adopting change.