M A I N   N E W S

Kalam outlines Navy’s future role
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

Visakhapatnam, February 12
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today outlined the future role of the Indian Navy with the men in blue controlling the country’s strategic interest in the eastern part of the country, including uninhabited islands in Bay of Bengal, submarines capable of firing Brahmos and other guided missiles and the fourth dimension role of the warrior in water.

Creating history by inspecting the President’s Fleet review in the eastern coast of the country, Dr Kalam set the strategic and economic significance the country attaches to this part of the country.

The naval fleet review is held once during the tenure of each President, who is also the supreme commander of India’s armed forces. All previous reviews since 1953 have been held at Mumbai on the western coast.

Today’s fleet review was held near the coastline giving an opportunity for large number of people to witness the event.

The region around Straits of Malacca in Bay of Bengal has a number of uninhabited island, which hold immense strategic and economic importance for the country. With the President giving clear indications that India should have significant say in this part of the region, clearly indicates that the Indian Navy in the coming years would have to play significant role protecting the strategic and economic interests by stationing themselves there.

This is significant as China has been eying to control this strait in view of the immense energy and natural resources potential here. With the commercial traffic said to increase many folds with the completion of Sethusamudram project in the Palk straits, the traffic in the straits of Malacca is expected to multiply manifold.

Another significant vision outlined by the missile man Abdul Kalam was the need to arm the submarines with Brahmos and other guided missile. Brahmos have the capability to carry nuclear warheads and destroy targets set several hundred kilometres away.

This is a clear indication that the country’s stated credible nuclear deterrence policy would get a new dimension with the sea front of the country gaining more and more importance.

Nuclear scientist Kalam brought out the fourth dimension of the Indian Navy. He said satellites provide important and significant data for the Navy and this aspect cannot be undermined in the years to come.

He clearly hinted that the maritime efficiency of the Naval force in future would not be limited to operations under the sea, on the sea and in the sky, but the importance it attaches to the satellite technology.

President Kalam was completely overwhelmed by the fleet review and described his cruise on board INS Sukanya as “a beautiful experience.”

He was given a 21-gun salute and guard of honour at the Visakhapatnam harbour before he embarked on a two hour-long voyage.

Warships from all Navy commands were anchored in line in full public view for the review.

The crew for all the ships also lined up on the upper deck in white ceremonial uniforms and doffed their caps in unison as the Presidential Column, comprising six ships, went past.

The Eastern Naval Command showcased around 50 Naval ships and 55 aircraft ranging from carrier, missile destroyers, submarines, stealth frigates, Naval sea fighters and helicopters.

Later in the evening, the President witnessed the awesome firepower display of these Naval ships, marine assault operations and skydiving.

A Navy spokesperson said they had decided to conduct the naval exercise near the coast giving an opportunity for the general public to witness it capability and to instill confidence amongst the citizens the fighting capacity and motivate others to join the force.

This would be first time that such a military exercise is being conducted as part of the Fleet Review as the coastline along this port city is ideally suited for such an operation, he added.

Large crowds gathered to witness the spectacle and cheered as the guns boomed and fireworks lit up the sky.

The firepower demonstration was followed by an aerobatics display by the Sagar Pawan team, a beating retreat ceremony and a fireworks and laser show.

The ninth fleet review would create another record of sorts with the President Kalam set to undertake undersea sortie tomorrow.

The President would be travelling on the INS Sindhurakshak, a Russian-origin kilo class submarine, for a duration of three and a half hours, a naval spokesman said here.

Dr Kalam would be briefed on the intricacies of submarine operations on board the craft.

Dr Kalam had previously visited a submarine in the harbour when he was scientific advisor to the defence ministry, the naval spokesman said.

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