On Friday, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh visited INS Baaz, the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces and spent a day with personnel stationed there.
INS Baaz is located at Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar island, the southernmost and largest island of the Nicobar islands, in the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This island is also the location of the Indira Point and is less than 250 km by sea from Banda Aceh in Indonesia.
The Andaman & Nicobar Islands are strategically important for India’s national security as they provide a critical capability to monitor sea areas in the region.
According to the Indian Navy website, the Indian Naval Ship (INS) ‘Baaz’ was commissioned in July 2012, and is the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces. Campbell Bay, where the base is located, is more than 1,500 km away from the Indian mainland, and 500 km from Port Blair.
The primary functions of the INS Baaz include helping build Maritime Domain Awareness by providing information via airborne surveillance using aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The base was first equipped with a runway of 3,500 feet but was later lengthened to enable larger aircraft to operate from it.
The location has been described as India’s “window into East and Southeast Asia”, and is in close vicinity of the Six Degree Channel, also called the Great Channel, one of the Indian Ocean’s busiest shipping lines, carrying strategic cargo to East Asian countries.
It is also close to the Strait of Malacca.
The INS Baaz helps to ensure maritime security in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, and substantially enhances the Indian Navy’s maritime surveillance capability, as per a Defence Ministry press release.
The base also assists the local populace in times of need such as facilitating evacuation during medical emergencies.
It is a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-services formation of the Indian Armed Forces that was started in 2001.
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