Uniting through oceans


Bolstered by its mighty surface, undersea and aerial capabilities, India’s blue water navy staged a spectacular maritime pageant off the eastern seaboard as it hosted its International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016 that was stunning in scale and turnout.

Fifty countries ranging from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Russia, Australia and Japan to Iran, Israel, Mauritius, Myanmar, Somalia and even landlocked Turkmenistan participated in this landmark event that was held by the Indian Navy at the port city and Eastern Naval Command (ENC) base of Visakhapatnam from 4 to 8 February 2016.

Twenty-four foreign warships and 75 of the Indian Navy, including three submarines, as also two ships from the Indian Coast Guard (CG) and three from mercantile marine, were at anchorage in six columns for review by President Pranab Mukherjee, who is also Supreme Commander of India’s armed forces. In attendance were Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, and the state Governor and Chief Minister. So were 22 navy chiefs, including the host Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Rabindra Kumar “Robin” Dhowan, as also 27 heads of delegations, apart from over 4,000 international naval officers and men. The review concluded with a fly-past by the Naval Air Arm and a daring display by Marine Commandos (Marcos). The fly-past by 15 formations of 45 aircraft, including two CG formations, showcased the latest acquisitions of the Indian Navy such as the Russian-built MiG 29K and AEW helicopter Ka31, and the U.S.-made Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8I.

“The sheer number of navies represented from across the globe is an endorsement and recognition of India’s emerging status as a major naval power,” said Dhowan. “The event allows the host nation an occasion to display its maritime capabilities and the ‘bridges of friendship’ and trust it has built with other maritime nations.”

As fulfillment of its assigned military, diplomatic, constabulary and benign roles, the Indian Navy regularly conducts joint exercises with other navies at their shores or in Indian waters, embarks ships on goodwill missions that call on navies internationally, and lends ships for peacekeeping and anti-piracy operations from the Horn of Africa to the Malacca Straits. Indian warships have besides assisted in evacuating the embattled from the war zones of Yemen (Operation Rahat in 2015), Libya (Operation Safe Homecoming in 2011), Lebanon (Operation Sukoon in 2006), and the Maldives (Operation Cactus in 1988), apart from moving out victims of national disasters as the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 and the tsunami at the eastern coast in 2004. The country has also gifted or sold several warships, new and used, and occasionally also maritime patrol aircraft, to smaller nations such as the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh… Click HERE to find out more about this article