At the second edition of the biannual Naval Commanders’ Conference held recently, Admiral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, focused on the thrust areas outlined by him during the previous edition in June which are: sustaining combat readiness, building capabilities for the future and addressing human resource challenges. The CNS emphasised that enhancement of combat capabilities of the fleet and efficacy of weapon systems along with readiness of other operational formations is of prime importance and focused efforts, as hitherto, are required at all levels to ensure sustained growth of the Navy and peak combat efficiency. He stated that the readiness levels of Navy’s frontline fighting units, which have been strengthened through institution of safety audits, needs to be monitored with due earnestness. He further stressed that the combat readiness of the Fleet must be supported by ingenious repairs and responsive operational logistics. Operational consolidation and effective management of new inductions are of highest priority, he said.
The Admiral stressed that the major exercises being undertaken by both the fleets be optimally utilised to further improve operational and material preparedness, integrate newly inducted platforms, refine war-fighting doctrines as also to improve the interoperability with sister services.
Coastal security issues were also discussed during the conference wherein the Admiral said that the Indian Navy must continue to provide requisite focus to our coastal security responsibilities through proactive coordination with other maritime agencies and coastal states. He stated that steady progress has been made in strengthening the coastal security construct, with induction of FICs, ISVs and Sagar Prahari Bal.
The CNS reviewed Indian Navy’s Foreign Cooperation Road Map, with specific emphasis on what has been achieved, and the way ahead. “Foreign cooperation being a vital component of our strategy of ‘shaping the maritime environment,” he said that this area be addressed at multiple levels with due impetus. Stressing that Indian Navy is an “important asset to India’s diplomatic outreach,” he said.
He further highlighted that Indian Navy needs to be seen as a dependable partner and the “first port of call” for the friendly navies in the Indian Ocean region.
The International Fleet Review (IFR), planned in early 2016, a major event on the anvil for the Indian Navy, was also discussed during the conference. The Admiral said that apart from being a ceremonial and diplomatic naval event, it is also an exercise in bringing together the navies of the world on a common platform with an aim to have a better understanding of each other and share best operational practices. He urged that this event of national significance be planned and coordinated in a most professional manner.
The Admiral discussed the self-reliance programme of the Navy and stressed that indigenisation of platforms, weapons, sensors and equipment, through public as well as private sectors, should remain a priority area of focus. Indian Navy’s varied contributions to indi- genisation and unflinching faith in ‘home grown’ capabilities is a matter of pride and needs to be strengthened further. He further said that the ongoing mechanisms to enhance the Indian Navy-Defence Research and Development Organisation (IN-DRDO) synergy must be continued.
The top naval commanders took stock of the substantial boost provided to the Navy’s capabilities with the induction of Vikramaditya with integral fighter aircraft, INS Kolkata (P15 A Destroyer), INS Kamorta (P 28 ASW Frigate) and INS Sumitra (OPV). The CNS also expressed satisfaction at the steady augmentation of assets in the aviation arm of the Navy with progressive induction of P 8I LRMR and Hawk trainer aircraft. Discussions were also held on the ongoing LCA (Navy) project. Capability gaps in the submarine fleet, ship borne helicopters and Mine Counter Measure Vessels were also discussed.
The Admiral also discussed about the utilisation of resources allocated to the Indian Navy. Ensuring that every rupee is stretched to the maximum and optimally utilised through adherence to cost consciousness and stringent budget management, especially in the acquisition of spares, equipment and machinery, was stressed upon by the CNS.
The CNS concluded the conference by complimenting all personnel of the Indian Navy for their professionalism and patriotism, and exhorted them to prepare themselves and the Navy to meet the maritime security challenges being faced by the nation. He stated that Indian Navy, which is amongst the best in the world, is set to grow further and there is an immense role and responsibility on each one of us to prepare ourselves and the Navy to fully meet the needs and expectations of a resurgent nation. “We need to pull on the oars together to propel the Navy to greater heights”, he said.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan addressing the biannual Naval Commanders’ Conference in New Delhi