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India needs N-submarines, says new Navy Chief
Tribune News Service

The new Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash, arrives at his office in South Block, New Delhi
The new Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash, arrives at his office in South Block, New Delhi, on Saturday. 
—PTI photo

New Delhi, July 31
The new Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash, today stressed that nuclear submarines were the need of the hour for India but, however, said that it was up to the government to take a decision in this regard.

After taking over the reins from outgoing chief Admiral Madhvendera Singh to become the 20th Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Prakash was forthright in the demand and said, “the Navy needs nuclear submarines but it is up to the government to take a decision on the acquisition”.

The statement from the new Chief of Naval Staff is particularly significant as it is for the first time that a senior official has acknowledged that India is keen to acquire such a class of submarines. There have been reports in the past that India was negotiating with Russia to take on lease at least two nuclear-powered ‘Akula’ class submarines but officially this had never been acknowledged.

In a brief interaction with the media, Admiral Prakash pointed to dwindling force levels in the Navy and said that there was an urgent need to arrest this trend.

The new Naval chief said his force also faced equipment and manpower shortages. “We have to convince the government; we need to overcome them (shortages),” he said.

Admiral Prakash pointed out that while the Navy’s “big ticket” acquisitions like the purchase of 28,000 tonne aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ from Russia was a “must”, it urgently needed modern submarines, minesweepers and ultra-fast offshore patrol vessels.

Incidentally, the outgoing naval chief had also urged the government for an early clearance of the two billion euro deal to acquire ‘Scorpene’ hunter-class submarines from France.

As per the deal, awaiting the Cabinet Committee on Security clearance, India, under the transfer of technology, proposes to build six ‘Scorpene’ submarines under licence at the Mazagoan docks.

Stressing that the defence deal needed speeding up, the naval chief said the government was well aware of this and was in the process of streamlining the weapons acquisition process.

Admiral Prakash, who has the distinction of being a naval fighter pilot donning the IAF uniform in 1971 war to win the ‘Vir Chakra’, said his thrust would be to make the Navy “network centric” by interlinking long-range missiles, radars and sensors on the naval warships through satellite and IT to deliver a lethal punch.

Meanhile, the Navy has a totally new set of commanders, with Admiral Arun Prakash taking over as the Chief of Navy Staff. There is also a new deputy chief to succeed the current incumbent.

Vice-Admiral Yashwant Prasad, who was earlier the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Southern Naval Command (SNC), had succeeded Admiral Prakash as VCNS on Thursday.

Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (DCNS) Vice-Admiral Srinivasa Varadachari Gopalachari was scheduled to take over the command of the SNC from Vice-Admiral Prasad but had been denied the post and in an unprecedented move, shifted from his current post due to medical reasons.

Being found to be in a ‘low-medical’ category, as he is a diabetic and has other health problems, Vice-Admiral Gopalachari has been posted as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Naval Headquarters here with no significant responsibilities and will continue so till his retirement about a year later. 
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