Special Correspondent

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Navy could adjust the operation of Air Traffic Control (ATC) of its Naval Air Station INS Dega which controls the Visakhapatnam air traffic if the number of flights from here is more, according to the outgoing Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command R.P. Suthan. “It is good if we know the intensity of flights so that we can adjust our ATC operation as the personnel to man it are not many,” Vice-Admiral Suthan told reporters here on Tuesday before leaving for New Delhi to take charge as Vice Chief of Naval Staff when asked about the increasing demand for introducing 24-hour operation of the airport. Navy provided more personnel to facilitate night-landing here and the airport was now operating from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and no flight was being denied landing and take-off facility even beyond these timings if it was a scheduled flight, Vice-Admiral Suthan said. The Navy sought the government to allot additional personnel to fulfil the local demand and was awaiting a positive response.

Safety aspect

There were about 75 officers and men manning the ATC and about 25 more have been brought from other Naval Air Stations. But there was still a shortage of around 100 officers and men. “But we cannot compromise on the safety aspect and other important facilities to be provided when the flights are operated by overburdening the present officers and staff,” the Naval official said. On his one-year tenure at the ENC, Vice-Admiral Suthan said it had been a hectic phase both operationally and administratively. Indian Naval ships were now in South China sea, South Africa and at a long distance in the Indian ocean which indicated the reach and dependability of the Indian Navy, he noted. All ships and establishments were fighting fit and ready for any contingency, he said and thanked the officers and sailors for the same. Plans were on to add landing ships, submarine warfare frigates, fast attack craft, more aircraft to the ENC. It would also have MIG 29s here along with training facility while a five-year shipbuilding plan was also being contemplated. On his job at New Delhi, Vice-Admiral Suthan said the main task was to make optimum use of the Navy’s budget of Rs.11,000 crores.