Navy to have second base near Vizag

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Santosh Patnaik

The futuristic base to be set up between Rambilli and Elamanchili

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Indian Navy has set in motion efforts to set up a futuristic base between Rambilli and Elamanchili mandals, about 50 km south of Visakhapatnam.

It has become imperative for the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) to have a new base as the existing channel of Visakhapatnam port shared by the Navy and the port is narrow and crowded.

The new base is of strategic importance for the ENC to expand its facilities in an exclusive enclave by deepening a natural channel to have easy access to sea. Of the 5,000 acres sought by the Ministry of Defence, the Andhra Pradesh Government has already allotted 500 acres and the remaining land will be assigned shortly. As the allotment is for the Navy, the process is being accorded topmost priority by the district administration.

A focal point for naval operations in the eastern seaboard, ENC has its origin in the Royal Naval Base developed in 1939, later commissioned as Royal Indian Naval Ship Circars in April 1942. Vizag has the submarine arm of the Navy and training centre for marine commandos. There are over 40 warships, six submarines and 22 aircraft under its operational command.

Ministry of Defence sources told The Hindu that the first indigenously built aircraft carrier would be based here. The 37,500-tonne carrier being built at Cochin Shipyard will be capable of operating a fleet of 30 aircraft, including naval light combat aircraft, MiG 29k and Sea Harrier combat aircraft.

The futuristic base assumes importance in view of proposals to operate amphibious warfare vessels, Akula class submarines now built in Russia, unmanned underwater vehicles to protect littoral domain. In the Maritime Capability Perspective Plan, it is stated that the Navy would acquire 160 ships and submarines, including INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov), 45 other large combatants and some 18 submarines by end of next decade. Stating that they would have nearly 300 aircraft of all type in their inventory, Vice-Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is appointed next Chief of Naval Staff, told a recent meeting that Vizag was poised to take the centre-stage in tune with the Navy's `Look East Policy'.

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