Eastern Fleet will have Carrier Battle Group: Vice Admiral

Once trials are over, INS Vikrant will be based in Vizag

Published - December 04, 2021 02:03 am IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Efforts are on to ensure that INS Vikrant is commissioned during August 2022, acording to Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta.

Efforts are on to ensure that INS Vikrant is commissioned during August 2022, acording to Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta.

The day is not far when the Eastern Fleet, headquartered at the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam, will boast a Carrier Battle Group of its own, once the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is commissioned into the Indian Navy. Hinting that the aircraft carrier is undergoing rigorous sea trials, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta said that once the trials were over, INS Vikrant would be based in Visakhapatnam. Efforts were on to commission it in August 2022 to commemorate the valedictory of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.

After induction, the aircraft carrier might be based in the Western Command for about a year, as a certain infrastructure facility was getting ready here. “But once ready and the ship comes here, we shall have a ‘carrier battle group’ on the eastern seaboard,” he said.

On the capability enhancement of the Eastern Fleet, Vice Admiral Dasgupta said the three Delhi-class guided missile destroyers INS Delhi , INS Mysore and INS Mumbai , would be re-based in Visakhapatnam from the Western Command.

INS Mysore is already here and is undergoing a refit, the other two destroyers are likely to be here by the Presidential Fleet Review, which is scheduled for February 21, 2022,” he said.

The seven Nilgiri-class stealth guided missile frigates under Project 17 Alpha, being built at Mazagon, Mumbai, and at Garden Reach, Kolkata, would be part of the Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral Dasgupta said. Five anti-submarine warfare (ASW) shallow watercraft were also under construction.

MiG29 K squadron

Speaking about the enhancement of air assets on the eastern seaboard, Vice Admiral Dasgupta said the MiG29K, which is part of the air assortment onboard INS Vikrant , would have a squadron in Visakhapatnam. “It is on the cards, but held back momentarily due to some technical issue,” he said.

The Navy is also acquiring four more P8I aircraft in addition to the existing fleet of eight. “All the aircraft will be based at Arakkonam and this will enhance our long-range anti-submarine warfare(ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities,” the ENC chief said.

“We are working to induct more long range UAVs, and have already inducted two for which tests are on to evaluate performance. Moreover, our Kamov helicopter fleet is undergoing midlife upgrade in Russia and will soon be inducted back to enhance our ASW capabilities,” he said.

He expressed happiness over the performance of HAL-built Advance Light Helicopters and said that by 2024, the ENC would have a couple of MH60 R (Romeos) helicopters that were being procured from the U.S. He said he was satisfied with the progress of the Naval Alternate Operations Base that was coming up at Rambilli in Visakhapatnam. It should have been ready by now, but due to technical reasons it had been delayed and it was expected to be ready and operational in the next two to three years.

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