Visakhapatnam

From a small outpost to a major command

Warships in a formation during a 'Day at Sea' off Visakhapatnam Coast. —File Photo

Warships in a formation during a 'Day at Sea' off Visakhapatnam Coast. —File Photo  

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ENC is the second largest unit in terms of naval assets and platforms, but had started as a small naval outpost in 1939.

The Eastern Naval Command (ENC), which will be hosting the second International Fleet Review of the Indian Navy from February 4, has made a glorious journey over the last 77 years. While some old timers say that the city of Visakhapatnam has grown with the Navy, others including the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the ENC Vice Admiral Satish Soni, is modest to admit the command has grown with the city.

The ENC started as a small naval outpost in 1939, and today it is the second largest naval command after the Western Naval Command, when it comes to the naval assets and platforms, but is the number one when it comes to area.

The small naval outpost played a key role during the World War II, as it served as the logistic support base during the Arakan Campaign of 1942–43.

The outpost turned into a command centre in 1968 and played a stellar role in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. It was here, close to the coast that the Pakistani Submarine PNS Ghazi was reportedly sunk by INS Rajput of ENC on December 4, 1971, which since then is commemorated as the Navy Day.

The R-Class destroyer INS Rajput was HMS Rotherham, which was purchased from the British Navy in 1948. The sinking of Ghazi had set quite a buzz among the locals, and overnight the naval personnel became heroes.

Blue water force

ENC, from having a few ships, an ammunition depot and a few workshops, is a blue water force today.

At present, from 12 km from the coast that is called the tactical zone to 24 km, which is the contiguous zone further up to 200 km and beyond into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), on the eastern seaboard we have our presence, said Vice-Admiral Satish Soni.

“Our presence at times goes further down to the south Indian Ocean and to the ambiguous zone of South China Sea to establish our presence.

We can stay out for days deep into the oceans with logistic support, and we have established ourselves as a formidable and potent blue water force,” said the Admiral.

Formidable platforms

The ENC has formidable platforms under its fold. Apart from having the largest amphibious transport dock such as INS Jalashwa and a fleet of logistic support vessels, it has the Shivalik class multi-role stealth frigates, Rajput class guided missile destroyers and the newly-acquired Kamorta class anti-submarine warfare platform, to name a few. This apart it is also the homeport for the Sindhughosh class diesel-electric submarines and the Akula class nuclear attack submarine INS Chakra.

According to Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, the Visakhapatnam class stealth guided missile destroyers are also likely to join the ENC in the next two to three years.

This apart, INS Varsha, the Naval Alternate Operating Base at Rambilli, will house the country’s first SSBN (nuclear powered submarine-launched ballistic missile) fleet of the Arihant class.

According to Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, while the INS Vikramaditya, the aircraft carrier, will be based in the Western Command, INS Vikrant, the aircraft carrier, which is being built at Kochi will be based in the ENC at a place close to Rambilli.

According to a senior naval officer, the featuring of INS Vikrant which will be carrying one of the most modern fighter jets such as the Mikoyan MiG-29K and the naval variant of the HAL Tejas Mark 2, will augment the status of ENC as a full-fledged blue water force command centre.



Visakhapatnam-class stealth guided missile destroyers likely to join the ENC in next two to three years

Vice Admiral Satish Soni

FoC-in-Chief, ENC



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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 8:57:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/From-a-small-outpost-to-a-major-command/article14019466.ece

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