SPEAKING at the Annual Navy Day press conference onboard INS Vikramaditya Thursday, Vice Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding-in-chief, Western Naval command, SPS Cheema confirmed that the Indian Navy submarine Sindhurakshak would be disposed officially.
In August, 2013, a massive fire had broken out on Sindhurakshak, followed by a series of explosions, killing all 18 Navy personnel on board, including three officers. The 3,000-tonne submarine sank in the South Breakwater in Mumbai’s naval dockyard within hours of the incident. Two Board of Inquiry were constituted by the Defence ministry to probe the feasibility of reusing INS Sindhurakshak.
“We have already finalised that Sindhurakshak should be disposed of. The report has been sent to the headquarters and its being studied,” Cheema said.
The Navy also announced that INS Viraat would be decommissioned next year. Viraat is the oldest serving Indian naval ship which was inducted into the Navy in May, 1987. “Like human beings, ships also age. Indian Navy has a unique capability to run ships beyond their lifetime.Those who believe in next life, believe she has lived her next life too… After certain time, the economics, the operational viability is looked upon,” he added.
“For all of us who served her, it will be sad to see her go. On whether it should become a commercial venture, we will have to see as it requires a lot of deliberation,” added Cheema. Cheema had commanded INS Viraat in the past.
Cheema also said that a strong Navy was required to secure sea-trade routes. “Indian economy is on an upswing and has grown at 7.4 % in the last quarter of the current fiscal year. The economy is directly linked to the growth in trade. Majority of India’s voluminous trade uses the sea-route for import and export. More than 100,000 ships pass through the waters along India’s coast annually. Indian Navy continuously monitors eight major shipping lanes and large number of foreign warships are also present round the clock, making sea-borne trade safe,” added Cheema.
Cheema also pointed that there had been no incident of piracy since 2011 after the Indian Navy started dedicated patrolling of the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
On the point of coastal security Cheema said, “Post 26/11, there has been good coordination and understanding between all agencies – Coast Guard, Marine Police, Customs – so as to prevent any threat from the sea. Today our National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network is strong and robust with state-of-the-art technology to monitor all movements at sea.”
On the Make in Indian pitch by the Prime Minister, Cheema said, “Defence procurement such as Offsets, FDI and DPP which govern defence business transactions, have hugely bolstered the indigenous growth of the Navy. More than 45 ships are in the pipeline in various shipyards. This policy and Make in India thrust would be a win-win situation for the Defence as also for the industry. It will create a lot of jobs for our countrymen. The Navy will not have to depend on foreign sources for its equipment, weapon and fighting capability,” Cheema added.