Will follow a ‘ships first’ approach: Navy chief

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All 28 ships and submarines commissioned into the Indian Navy over the last seven years have been built in India, Chief of Naval Staff R Hari Kumar said on Friday, emphasising the force’s focus on indigenisation.

Addressing a press conference ahead of Navy Day on December 4, he said 39 ships and submarines are currently under construction out of which 37 are being built at Indian shipyards.

Asked about his priorities, the Navy chief said the focus will be on a “ships first” approach so that the operational units and the personnel manning them are empowered.

“My aim is to build on the legacy of my predecessors, without any disruptive changes, whilst seeking disruptive technology to find better ways of doing our job at sea,” Admiral Kumar said.

“Our focus will be ships first so that the operational units and the personnel manning them are empowered, enabled and supported to the hilt,” he said.

Asked about the Navy’s plans to become a 170 ship force, he said certain changes are being considered in the Navy’s maritime capability perspective plan in view of an integrated plan being chalked out by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

Admiral Kumar also described creation of the post of the Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of the DMA as the most important reforms in the higher defence sector.

Referring to the ships and submarines that are under construction, he said these include the aircraft carrier Vikrant, P-15B class destroyers, P17A class stealth frigates and scorpene class submarines.

India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant, built at a cost of around Rs 23,000 crore, has already completed two sea trials and it is set to be inducted into the Navy by August next year.

“The indigenous design and construction of an aircraft carrier by the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard Limited is a shining example of our quest for ‘AatmaNirbharta’ with more than 76 per cent indigenous content,” the Navy chief said.

He said Visakhapatnam, the first of the P 15B destroyers, was commissioned last month and the remaining three ships of the class are likely to be delivered by 2024.

Admiral Kumar described Project Seabird at Karwar as the “most important” amongst infrastructure projects being implemented by the Indian Navy.

He said the project is on track. The Project Seabird involves the construction of a mega naval base near Karwar in Karnataka.

“Additionally, Indian Navy’s infrastructure plans are also focussing on our island territories which are a springboard to our operations and enhance our sustenance and reach,” he said.

Admiral Kumar said the Navy’s ‘Mission Based Deployment’ philosophy has enhanced its presence across the region enabling rapid responses to emerging security challenges.

“The Indian Navy has established a persistent footprint in our areas of interest. Naval deployments also serve as a deterrent to inimical interests, clearly signalling the Navy’s reach, capability and intent,” he said.

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