Year of mixed fortunes for Navy

Admiral D.K. Joshi   | Photo Credit: Rajanish Kakade

The year gone by was a mixed bag for the Indian Navy. It began on a sombre note with the accident streak of 2013 continuing into 2014. There were over 10 major and minor accidents involving naval ships and submarines.

But what made the biggest news was the resignation of Admiral D.K. Joshi following a fire on board the submarine INS Sindhuratna in February 2014.

He is the first Indian service chief to have resigned. He took charge in 2012 and had more than a year left in service.

Admiral Joshi resigned expressing his inability in stopping the accidents and speaking eight months later he said there was a “dysfunctional and inefficient business model” in which the service has professional competence, accountability and responsibility but no financial empowerment.

“All in all, 2014 was a year of mixed fortunes for the Navy. With the induction of Vikramaditya and sea trials of Arihant the service has crossed significant milestones. But with two serious accidents and the resignation of a chief, the Navy needs to undertake introspection and draw some lessons; which I am sure is being done,” said former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash.

The year end though was occupied by the ‘Make in India’ mantra in which the Navy has made considerable progress compared to its sister services. In a major step towards securing a 7,500 km-long coastline, the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) was inaugurated in Gurgaon.

It is the nodal centre of the National Command Control Communications and Intelligence Network (NC3I), conceived in the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, to monitor the coastline in real-time.

Some of the accidents highlighted the ageing platforms that need replacement and the delays in the acquisition process. Despite the procurement hurdles, the Navy saw some major platform inductions which have augmented its blue water capabilities.

The 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, purchased from Russia, was inducted into the Navy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2014.

With Vikramaditya, India has two operational carriers for the first time since 1997, when the first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was decommissioned. In the strategic domain, INS Arihant, India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine, quietly headed for sea trials in December.

In a boost to indigenous ship building, the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was launched and destroyer INS Kolkata and anti-submarine corvette INS Kamorta were commissioned. The Naval Light Combat Aircraft too has made first flight from the Shore-based Test Facility (STBF) in Goa.

More P-8I surveillance aircraft and Hawk jet trainers were inducted while Sikorsky has been selected for cost negotiations to procure 16 multi-role helicopters.

The Defence Acquisition Council has cleared the Rs. 50,000-crore deal for a second line of conventional submarines to be built in India with foreign collaboration, additional Dornier aircraft and integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Suites.

“The challenges ahead are going to be to raise training standards, face manpower shortages as the Navy plans and executes its expansion with over 40 platforms on order, and inducts newer submarines it direly needs for its Order of Battle (ORBAT), going into the New Year,” said Analyst Commodore Ranjit Rai (Retd.).

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 1:06:24 AM |

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