Admiral R K Dhowan (PVSM AVSM YSM ADC) was on Thursday appointed as new Chief of Naval Staff. Admiral D K Joshi had quit in the wake of a mishap on board a submarine killing scores of men.
Admiral Dhowan was commissioned January 1, 1975 and is a navigation and direction specialist. He has served in an array of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments through his exemplary career spanning 40 years. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College and Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
He has commanded frontline warships INS Khukri, INS Ranjit, INS Delhi and served as Chief Staff Officer (Operations) Headquarters Western Naval Command. He has also served as Indian Naval Adviser at the High Commission of India, London. He has commanded the Eastern Fleet as Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet and served as Chief of Staff at Headquarters Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam. He also has the distinction of commanding the prestigious ‘National Defence Academy’, his alma mater as the Commandant.
The important staff appointments held by the Admiral at Naval Headquarters are Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Policy and plans), Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and Vice Chief of Naval Staff.
However, following the government’s move to appoint Dhowan as the next chief, a crisis is at hand given that the continuation of Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha as the western navy chief may become untenable after Dhowan’s appointment, given that the latter is junior to the former.
Sinha may take legal recourse — by first representing to the ministry and then going to court — by invoking the case of Sureesh Mehta’s appointment to the top post that was not deterred by the war room leaks controversy.
In its recommendation of Dhowan, the MoD has taken the view that Sinha was at the helm of affairs when several accidents took place at the western command that ultimately led to Joshi’s exit and that accountability lies with him too.
The final nail in the coffin that led to Joshi’s resignation was a fire on the Sindhuratna submarine in which two officers were killed. It has emerged in the inquiry that basic standard operating procedures of putting on gas masks were not followed that led to casualties.