The Second International Fleet Review
The commissioning of India’s first indigenously constructed nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant will perhaps be the highlight of the prestigious international event, the International Fleet Review (IFR), of the Indian Navy. The review to be held in the first week of February at Visakhapatnam next year will attract more than 50 navies of the world, which would include the navies of the United States, China, Japan, Gulf countries and other littoral states of the Indian Ocean. But one significant omission will be Pakistan, which was extended an invitation, but the Pakistani naval headquarters did not respond.
Regarding the commissioning of the INS Arihant, the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan, during the media briefing of the IFR-2016 to be held from February 4-8, 2016, was non-committal. He neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of the Arihant being commissioned by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the show. But knowledgeable sources are sure of the commissioning of the INS Arihant during this high-profile international congregation of the top navies of the world. Sources said that the sea trials of INS Arihant are almost over and the ship was waiting for a commissioning date from the Prime Minister. Sources said that the Indian Navy found the occasion of IFR as extremely appropriate. The occasion has been chosen to highlight the entry of Indian Navy in nuclear age. This will form the part of the Indian military’s nuclear triad and showcase the capabilities of Indian Navy. Indian Navy has already been endowed with the nuclear submarine INS Chakra, obtained on 10-year lease from Russia, but this ship is not equipped with nuclear tipped missiles. The IFR-2016 will convey the message to the world that Indian Navy has an indigenous nuclear submarine programme and is ready to rule the high seas from the Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean.
The President of India Pranab Mukherjee will review the naval parade. According to the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan, “The Indian Navy today is widely acknowledged as a professional three-dimensional maritime force. The hosting of the International Fleet Review by the Indian Navy in February 2016 can be seen in this light, as a significant event in the nation’s maritime history.”
Indian Navy has organised fleet reviews 10 times earlier and this would be the 11th one. However, this would be Indian Navy’s second International Fleet Review, the first was held in 2001.
According to the Naval Chief Admiral Dhowan, “While showcasing our navy to the nation and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the Honourable President of India, we also celebrate the time-honoured principles of friendship across the seas, which are intrinsic to the seafaring community.”
The maritime events like the International Fleet Review are organised by leading navies of the world and Indian Navy also participates in them by sending leading warships, which are made in India. Recently Indian Navy had participated in the International Fleet Reviews organised by the Japanese and the Chinese navies. The IFR serves to provide a platform for participating navies to interact with each other, strengthen bridges of friendship towards developing a common appreciation of maritime challenges and the potential for addressing them through a united approach, said Admiral Dhowan.
Indian Navy seeks to move ahead on the concept of the global mari- time family with the theme ‘United through Oceans.’ Over a period of time Fleet Reviews in India have seen participation by ships, submarines and aircraft to emphasise the three-dimensional nature of the Indian Navy. During IFR-2016 also Indian Navy will parade the two serving aircraft carriers INS Viraat and INS Vikramaditya along with other leading warships, reconnaissance planes and naval fighter aircrafts.
The last fleet review was organised on December 20, 2011. The first ever IFR held in 2001 saw large participation from Indian and foreign ships. The second IFR will be much larger in scale. Along with President Mukherjee and Prime Minister Modi, the Vice President Hamid Ansari and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will also grace the occasion. The extravaganza planned for the IFR includes an Operations Demonstration (Op Demo) by the major combatants of the Indian Navy, illumination of anchored ships off the Ramakrishna Mission Beach, a fly-past, an international City Parade, an International Maritime Conference, symphonic band concerts, etc. The President of India would review the Fleet in the morning of February 6, INS Sumitra, an indigenously built naval offshore patrol vessel would be the presidential yacht.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan at the
curtain-raiser for IFR-16 held in New Delhi