Addressing the annual press conference on the occasion of Navy Day 2017 Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) welcomed all present for the media interaction. He recognised the responsible role being played by the Media in projecting the Indian Navy in right light which works as force-multiplier for the Navy. He availed the opportunity to pay homage to the departed martyrs and recognised supreme sacrificed made by them.
CNS said: “We are all well aware of the prevailing security scenario in the maritime domain. The continued presence of both traditional and non-traditional threats in the maritime domain demands constant attention and robust mitigating actions. The Indian Navy is accordingly, actively engaged in ensuring safety and security in India’s maritime areas of interest. We have adopted several new measures to effectively fulfil our commitment to the nation. These are aimed at making our processes and structures more efficient and outcome-oriented.
“On the operational front, we have re-oriented our deployment philosophy to mission-based deployments. We have maintained continuous presence off the Horn of Africa for anti-piracy operations since October 2008. Indian Naval Ships deployed on antipiracy patrols have been actively involved in foiling piracy attempts in the Gulf of Aden. In addition, regular deployment of naval ships and aircraft is being maintained in the North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, the Andaman Sea and the approaches to the strategically important straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda. In short, our ships and aircraft are deployed from the Gulf of Aden to the Western Pacific on an almost 24x7 basis.
Waters beyond this geographical expanse are also frequented as part of our international maritime engagements in the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. This deployment philosophy has ensured a high degree of presence, visibility and situational awareness in important maritime regions across the globe.
The overall combat capability of the Navy was tested during our annual Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (TROPEX) conducted in Feb-Mar this year. The exercise saw participation of 45 ships, five submarines and more than 50 aircraft from the Navy as well as 11 ships from the Indian Coast Guard. In addition, about 20 aircraft and the Garud Special Forces of the Air Force and Airborne Special Forces and Amphibious units from the Indian Army participated.
I must highlight that the exercise provided a great opportunity for progressing jointness among our three Services in planning and execution of combat operations. Jointness was also honed through the annual Joint Disaster Relief Exercises conducted by the three Services in Hyderabad, Shillong and Karwar. We also recently conducted from November 20-24, 2017 off Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI). In addition to the units at Andaman and Nicobar Command, a large number of troops/ships and aircraft from mainland also participated in the exercise. Special Forces from all three services undertook joint operations to exercise their inter-operability.
The Indian Navy has participated in about 20 exercises with friendly foreign countries this year. Exercise Malabar, which was widely covered by the media, saw participation of aircraft carriers from India, USA and Japan as well as other ships, submarines and a large variety of aircraft.
The tenth edition of Exercise Indra, which was held in Russia last month was indeed unique as it involved elements of all the three Services of both nations exercising together for the first time. In addition, we also undertook joint Exclusive Economic Zone patrol as well as with Indian Coast Guard. These activities help enhance interoperability and ensure security in our maritime neighbourhood as well as in the ‘Global Commons’.
The Indian Navy has continued to strive towards fostering the spirit of maritime bonding through various multilateral initiatives such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Goa Maritime Conclave and MILAN.
Since its inauguration in 2008, the IONS have grown in strength to 23 members and nine observers. This year, the first ever IONS Multilateral Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (IMMSAREX) was conducted last month off the coast of Bangladesh. Four Indian Naval ships and an aircraft participated in this event. In order to bring together like-minded maritime nations of South and South Eastern IOR, the Indian Navy recently hosted the Goa Maritime Conclave. Ten countries participated in the inaugural edition of this initiative. This conclave helped in promoting the spirit of cooperative solutions to contemporary maritime security challenges. We intend to hold this event once every two years.
Force Level Planning and Acquisitions
Induction of new assets is being progressed in consonance with the Indian Navy’s perspective plans. As on date, we have 34 ships under construction and it is a matter of great pride that all of them are being constructed in Indian shipyards. The warfighting capability of the Navy’s surface fleet has been augmented by induction of three indigenous Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvettes, two Water-Jet Fast Attack Craft and two Landing Craft this year.
A key focus area for the Indian Navy this year has been on infrastructure development and I am pleased to inform you that we have made significant progress in developing Karwar as a futuristic naval base on the West coast of India
Work on Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, IAC 1, is progressing well and I am hopeful that the ship would join the Navy by 2020. Two Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels have been launched at Pipavav in Gujarat. In addition, Survey Vessels, Shallow Water Anti-Submarine Warfare Craft and Diving Support Vessels are in various stages of procurement.
Modernisation of the submarine arm is also well underway. We have accepted the delivery of Kalvari and we will formally commission her very soon. Trials of Khanderi, the second of the Kalvari class, are also progressing satisfactorily. Measures are also underway to bolster the aviation arm of the Navy by induction of new fighters, surveillance aircraft and ship-borne helicopters.
Policy reforms by the Government, such as the Strategic Partnership Model and the Technology Development Fund, have emerged as catalysts for the Navy’s goal of self-reliance. Indigenous development of sensor suites such as Next Generation SONAR, Combat Management System and Torpedo Fire Control System is indeed encouraging.
We have also identified about 40,000 Crore worth of projects for participation by private shipyards. It is indeed heartening to note that 23 Indian private sector shipyards have qualified for participation in indigenous shipbuilding projects on the basis of their capacity, capability and infrastructure.
A key focus area for the Indian Navy this year has been on infrastructure development and I am pleased to inform you that we have made significant progress in developing Karwar as a futuristic naval base on the West coast of India. The execution of the next Phase of Project Seabird has commenced. Creation of a full-fledged Naval Dockyard and associated infrastructure to accommodate more number of ships, submarines and yard-craft will be undertaken during this phase.
Six women Officers have embarked on the Navika Sagar Parikrama, wherein they are circumnavigating the globe in the ocean-sailing yacht INSV Tarini. This effort stands testimony the resoluteness of our women. The Indian Naval Mountaineering Team successfully scaled Mount Everest to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the first Indian Everest expedition in 1965, that was led by a Naval Officer Capt M.S. Kohli (Retd).
This year also marks the Golden Jubilee of the Navy’s Submarine Arm. Since its inception in December 1967, the Submarine Arm has evolved into a formidable force. To commemorate the occasion, 2017 is being celebrated as the ‘Year of the Submarine Arm’ by the Navy. In recognition of their exemplary service, the Hon’ble President of India is due to award ‘President’s Colour’ to the Submarine arm on December 8, 2017.