Andhra Pradesh

ENC will be a potent force in the Indian Ocean Region, says ENC Chief

From possessing a couple of Foxtrot class Russian submarines, a few Petya Class frigates and old destroyers, the Eastern Naval Command over the last five decades has grown to be a force to reckon with in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.

Headquartered at Visakhapatnam, today the command boasts a strong blue water force with state-of-the-art Shivalik class multi-role frigates, indigenously built Kiltan-class anti-submarine corvettes, Rajput-class guided-missile destroyers, Sindhughosh (Kilo-class) submarines and Akula-class nuclear submarine.

Talking to The Hindu on the occasion of ‘Swarna Varsha’ (golden jubilee) celebrations, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command Vice-Admiral Karambir Singh said the command is poised for a higher trajectory, and by 2027, it is going to be the biggest naval force in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), dominating a vast region from the Gulf of Mannar to the east of Malacca Strait and beyond the Sunda Strait.

“Though our main base is in Visakhapatnam, we have facilities across the eastern coast from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu, and in the next decade we intend expand our surface ships from about 30 at present to close to 60, he said. As per the vision of the Indian Navy, the plan is to have close to 198 to 200 floating assets, including surface ships, and we expect the ENC to have anything between 60 and 70 ships, which is a huge force going by global standards,” he pointed out.

INS Vikrant

Going by the navy’s blue print of three-carrier fleet, the stage is set to assign the new air defence ship INS Vikrant, that is being built in Kochi, to Visakhapatnam.

“Vikrant will be assigned to ENC and Visakhaptnam will be its base and it will operate across the region. The aim is to have a three-carrier fleet by 2027 and as per the plan, INS Vikramaditya will be based in the western command and Vikrant will be in ENC,” he said.

Major air base

The Naval Airbase in Visakhapatnam INS Dega will also house the MiG 29K squadron. “The plans are through, the funds have been sanctioned, we are awaiting the arrival INS Vikrant,” he said.

According to the ENC chief, the air arm of ENC has also grown from being ‘a few helicopter’ force to a powerful force with fighter aircraft like MiG 29K and the sophisticated Boeing P-8I Neptune surveillance and anti-submarine anti-surface aircraft.

Nuclear base

It is a known fact that Visakhapatnam is going to be base for the country’s most effective strategic weapon, but the Vice-Admiral was non-committal about it.

INS Varsha, which is also known as the Naval Alternate Operating Base (NAOB), will be the base for country’s nuclear submarines such as INS Arihant and INS Aridhaman.

“These are strategic projects and come under the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office), and all I can say is that the construction of the base is in full swing,” he said.

But according to him, the third dimension of the navy — the submarine arm — has grown leaps and bounds from a humble beginning in December 1967. The submarine arm is also celebrating its golden jubilee along with the ENC.

Bigger role

According to Vice-Admiral Karambir Singh, the navy, and ENC in particular, is not only to be viewed as fighting force, but also for its role in diplomacy.

“The ENC sits astride the world’s busiest shipping lane that converge Malacca and Sunda straits. The ENC, therefore, has an important role in ensuring India’s global commitment towards safe and secure seas in this region. Being a major stakeholder in the region, we play the role of net security provider to being the first responder in times of calamity,” said the ENC Chief.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:48:08 AM |

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