The government on Saturday appointed Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS). With the announcement, the government has for the second time overlooked the seniority principle in service chief appointments.
Vice Admiral Singh will take over as the 24th Navy chief from incumbent CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba, who is set to retire on May 31 on completing three years in office. He is currently the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of Eastern Naval Command headquartered at Visakhapatnam.
“Vice Admiral Singh is the senior-most naval aviator. He will be the first helicopter pilot of the Navy to become CNS,” a Navy officer said.
In a service spanning nearly 39 years, he has served in a variety of command, staff and instructional appointments. “Commissioned into the Indian Navy in July 1980, Vice Admiral Singh earned his wings as a helicopter pilot in 1982 and has flown extensively on the Chetak and Kamov helicopters in support of fleet operations,” the Navy said in a statement.
Vice Admiral Bimal Verma would be the senior-most officer in the Navy once Admiral Lanba retires. But Vice Admiral Singh will now supersede him.
Vice Admiral Verma — the younger brother of former Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma — is the chief of the Andaman and Nicobar-based tri-service command. His name figured in the investigation into the infamous naval war room leak case as he was the principal director of naval operations at that time. His name was later cleared and he went on to get higher appointments.
The government had earlier overlooked a senior officer in the appointment of General Bipin Rawat as the Chief of Army Staff in 2016.