The Indian Navy in the last four decades has grown from being just a coastal navy to a formidable blue water force that expands it reach from the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to the western Pacific Ocean and from the Arabian Sea to the Atlantic, said Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta.
Speaking to a select group of media persons here on Friday, he said, “Earlier, our ships would sail up to about 1,500 nautical miles and come back to base, but now we are a global force and among the top five navies in the world.”
Today, our navy is one of the most respected navies in the globe and it is substantiated with the number of bilateral and multilateral exercises that we undertake with the top navies across the oceans in the world and we are also part of important associations such as the Quad, he said.
Vice Admiral Dasgupta will be retiring from service on July 31, after about 41 years in the navy.
Speaking about the future developments, he said that there is a need for more research oriented development, especially in fundamental research, as technology has become an integral part of the defence forces. “There is a need for an academia-industry research interface and the biggest challenge would be to speed the development of design and production of war assets such as ships, submarines and aircraft. The process is a bit slow right now and it has to be hastened up,” he said.
Speaking about the development of the navy, he said that the Indian Navy right now has cutting edge technology and is on par with any other developed navy.
“But since indigenous production is the key word and the government intends to become fully self-reliant (Atma Nirbhar) by 2047, we have to work as a team with full steam,” he said.
On self-reliance, he pointed out that India has not only built nuclear submarines but is also among a few countries to build an aircraft carrier. “It would be good to have at least three aircraft carriers, as one would invariably be undergoing refits; the other two can be deployed on the eastern and western seaboards,” he said.
On the success of Agniveer, he said that the programme has been highly successful and the first batch is already out and the second one is undergoing training.
“But the important part is that for the first time we will have women non-officers in our force and they will be inducted in almost all branches and platforms, including on warships. We are prepared to welcome them and it won’t be surprising to see a woman commanding a ship in the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.
Earlier, we just had about 6% of women, who were recruited in the officer rank, in the force and they were posted in non-combat areas. Now with Agniveer it will increase to 20% and very soon to 25% and they will play a key role in the combat region.
Speaking about Visakhapatnam, he said that the city has grown with the navy and he shares a special bond with the city. “In 2024, the second edition of Milan will be held in this city. In the last edition about 39 navies participated and this time we have sent invites to over 60 countries,” he said.
“The concept of war has changed. Earlier wars were declared but now it is just aggression and we are seeing it on a daily basis between Ukraine and Russia. So we are operationally ready for deployment all the time, be it to scuttle an aggression or lead a humanitarian and rescue mission,” he said.