Indian Navy Frigate Captain Relieved Of Command

INS Talwar at the President's Fleet Review on 20 Dec 2011
The Commanding Officer of the Indian Navy's frontline missile frigate INS Talwar has been relieved of command to make way for an investigation into the death of a young officer out at sea just before New Year. Captain Rahul Parmar, a veteran with the navy's work-up force, will stay off the ship and its command as a Board of Inquiry (BoI) looks into whether the death of Sub Lieutenant Vipin Kumar on December 29 was caused by negligence or unnecessary pressure.

It took that photograph of the Talwar on December 20 off Mumbai, nine days before the incident in question: a sea swimming survival drill in the Arabian Sea, which involved officers and sailors jumping from the ship and rapidly swimming 50-meters away, simulating a jump-ship in the event of a hit or other accident. Sub Lt Kumar jumped, but failed to surface (ironically, he was a seasoned swimmer, ex-NDA). Elaborate search operations were conducted but he couldn't be found. First designated missing, he was later designated dead. On the ship's return, Captain Parmar was relieved of command. The navy has, however, said that the CO has been asked to step aside only so that the investigation isn't prejudiced.

The Talwar-class of ships are superb vessels, but this is the second time that a CO of one of these ships has lost command. On December 27, 2005, INS Trishul collided with a merchantman outside Mumbai harbour, an incident that first led to its commanding officer Captain Sunil Edwin David being relieved of command, but finally to his exit from service as well.

Photo of INS Talwar / Shiv Aroor

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