The Southern Naval Command gave an emotional farewell to Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, who relinquished its command on Saturday on transfer to Visakhapatnam as chief of the Eastern Naval Command.
After a ceremonial parade at the Naval Base, the outgoing Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) was ceremonially pulled out in a jeep by commanding officers of ships and naval establishments located under the command.
Rear Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), will be officiating till Vice-Admiral SPS Cheema takes over the command of the Southern Naval Command later this month.
The outgoing Vice-Admiral said he was equally happy and sad to leave the command — happy as both the uniformed and the civilian personnel strove to meet the goals set by him during the past two years since he assumed office in May, 2012. And sad because a good period in Kochi was ending.
Later, speaking to reporters, he said the process of converting the command, which takes care of training in the Navy, into a full-scale operational command was under way. It was an evolutionary process, he said.
Vice-Admiral Soni’s tenure in Kochi witnessed several infrastructural projects for the force’s future requirements being initiated. He was instrumental in showcasing the naval training to India’s neighbours in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) by way of an epic expedition of tall ship INS Sudarshini between September, 2012 and March, 2013. The period also saw the induction of indigenous advanced offshore patrol vessel INS Sunayna, a stealth vessel, fast interceptor craft, commissioning of the Navy’s maiden Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) squadron, flight and tactical simulator and a watermanship training centre.
Navies of the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh visited Kochi during this period in a bid to improve maritime ties with India in the field of training.