The might of the Indian Navy came together at the International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016 on the weekend. The last time an event on such a large scale took place with the participation of international navies was in Mumbai, 2001.
The Fleet Review is a ceremonial and stately inspection of the naval warships by the President. The President reviewed the international fleet comprising of 75 frontline ships and submarines besides 24 ships which had sailed in from across the globe. Each ship was manned by the ship’s company, dressing in white ceremonial uniforms. The presidential column traversed through the formation of ships. The crew on board the ships doffed their caps in unison in salutation with three ‘Jais’.
The fly-past that accompanied the presidential review comprised 15 formations of 45 aircraft including two formations from the Indian Coast Guard. In the final stage of the review, a mobile column of warships and submarines steamed past the presidential yacht. This display also showcased the latest acquisitions of the Indian Navy.
After a 21-gun salute and the ceremonial Guard of Honour, the President embarked on the Presidential yacht, INS Sumitra which sailed through the 70 ships at anchorage off Visakhapatnam. The President’s yacht was an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel. Interestingly, Pranab Mukherjee and PM Narendra Modi wore caps with ‘President’ and ‘Prime Minister’ embossed on them.
On review were Indian aircraft carriers including the latest acquisition from Russia INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat, the oldest aircraft carrier in the world. This was the last time the two aircraft carriers will be seen together. INS Viraat is slated to be retired later this year.
The foreign fleet included contingents from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, France, Indonesia, Iran, Maldives, UK and USA.
One interesting fact: over the past month, over 80 warships and support vessels were stationed in a 100 sq km area on the sea. The presence of warships along the coast was a major security concern and round the clock surveillance by aircraft, fast crafts was carried out to ensure protection of these platforms.