1. The world has acknowledged India’s economic trajectory and as the country continues to progress on the path of sustained growth, there is a growing acceptance that the maritime domain is the prime facilitator of our economic growth. More than 90% of our trade by volume and 77% by value is transported over the seas. Over 97% of our energy needs of oil are either imported or produced from offshore fields. Consequently, our economic growth is inextricably linked to the seas.
2. The raison d’etre of our existence is thus, succinctly encapsulated in the theme for Navy Week 2012: ‘Indian Navy – Maritime Power for National Prosperity’. Our mandate is unambiguous – to be ‘Net Security Providers’ wherever the country’s sovereign interests may lie in the maritime domain. Therefore, whilst the Navy is prepared to meet any form of traditional threat, it is constantly acquiring capabilities and realigning its operational ethos to meet emerging security challenges.
3. Accordingly, the Navy has maintained its momentum towards enhancing maritime security and safeguarding our economic and strategic interests. Today, we stand committed to providing stability, not just to the Indian Ocean Region, but also for safeguarding our interests across the oceans.
4. It is, therefore, with good reason that the tempo of Naval operations in 2012 was relatively higher. In the last six months alone, our ships have been deployed from the Mediterranean Sea to the Western Pacific, demonstrating our reach and endurance at extended ranges. We also continue to develop inter-operability with friendly foreign navies through bilateral exercises. Maintaining our focus on the diplomatic role, INS Sudarshini, the Navy’s sail training ship, is currently on a six month MEA sponsored voyage to ASEAN countries, in commemoration of 20 years of India-ASEAN diplomatic relations.
5. As regards anti-piracy, robust action by your Navy close to the Indian coast has been a strong deterrent to piracy. Sinking of four pirate mother ships last year, clearly signaled India’s resolve to curb this menace. Since then, no successful pirate attacks have been reported within 450 nm of our coast. Similarly, in the Gulf of Aden, no ship escorted by the Indian Navy has been pirated during the last four years. Over 41 piracy attempts have been foiled by us and more than 120 pirates arrested. Statistics show that successful attempts, which peaked in 2010, have declined since last year. Our efforts will gain a stronger legal basis, with implementation of the Anti-Piracy Bill, currently under Parliament’s consideration. The final solution, of course, as you are aware lies ashore in Somalia and till the time those issues are adequately resolved, we expect the situation to remain.
6. Coastal security continues to remain an important aspect of the Navy’s comprehensive approach towards maritime security. A phased implementation of initiatives like the National AIS network, coastal radar chains and Joint Operations Centres in progress now will contribute towards enhancing our situational awareness in the maritime domain. The Sagar Prahari Bal has been created and 15 interceptor craft have been inducted so far. ICG and coastal states have also commenced augmenting their hardware and infrastructure. As we upgrade infrastructure and induct hardware, our coastal security readiness will continue to further improve.
7. We have also taken initiatives to shape our future Navy in the realm of Policy and Plans, with publication of three documents. These are the Maritime Capabilities Perspective Plan 2012-27, the XII Plan document and the XII Infrastructure Plan document. A fourth document, the Maritime Infrastructure Perspective Plan, is under compilation. The Indian Navy is evolving continuously to meet emerging challenges to our maritime interests, and our focus has been to evolve a force structure commensurate with our mandate in the maritime domain. Threats, missions and affordability have, therefore, remained dominant factors in force structure planning. Modernisation and enhancement of the Navy’s capabilities is an ongoing process, to meet emerging maritime challenges/threats. These include aircraft carriers, stealth frigates, destroyers, corvettes, amphibious ships and submarines. IN would also be inducting state-of-the-art aircraft and helicopters to augment our surveillance and integral aviation capabilities. Our preferred choice of inducting ships and submarines has been through the indigenous route and of the 44 ships and submarines presently on order, 42 are from Indian shipyards, including private shipyards.
8. Over the next five years we expect to induct ships/submarines at an average rate of 5-6 ships per year. Amongst the major projects, under construction in Indian shipyards, are ships of Kolkata Class (P-15A), P- 15B ships which are an advanced version of the Kolkata Class and the P-75 submarines, all at Mazagaon Dock Limited, Mumbai. Anti Surface Warfare Corvettes are being series built at Garden Reach Ship-builders, Kolkata. In addition, Naval Offshore Patrol vessels are under construction both at public and private sector shipyards. The construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier though delayed is now picking up pace at Kochi Shipyard. In 2013, we expect to induct one Kolkata class destroyer, one P-28 ASW Corvette, one Catamaran Hull Survey Vessel, one Offshore Patrol Vessel and sixteen Fast Interceptor Craft.
9. Amongst the overseas projects, there has been a delay in the delivery of Vikramaditya, which has sailed for more than 100 days in the recent past and completed a majority of her equipment and aviation trials. The revised schedule envisages the delivery of the ship in the last quarter of 2013.
10. The scheduled induction of P8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft commencing 2013 would augment the aerial surveillance capability, thereby enhancing the Maritime Domain Awareness in IOR and IN area of interest.
11. Recent years have also witnessed a sustained focus on enhancing our operational, technical and administrative infrastructure. Phase I of the Naval Base at Karwar, under Project Seabird, has been completed this year. We are now progressing the case for the second phase, which would substantially enhance the operational and technical infrastructure in the Naval base. In addition, we are also setting up additional Operational Turn Around (OTR) bases, Forward Operating Bases and Naval Air Enclaves all along the coast which would enhance the reach and sustainability of our surveillance effort.
12. This year the Navy has provided a renewed impetus and focus towards creation of operational and administrative infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands. These islands are the country’s strategic outposts and augmentation of the facilities would enhance our reach and enable extended presence in the region.
13. The biggest strength of our Navy is our well trained Human Resource that derives its strength and motivation from the finest traditions inherited from our predecessors. The Navy is facing a shortfall in both uniformed and civilian personnel. Civilian personnel form the backbone of our maintenance force and have longstanding expertise, which we can ill afford to lose. We are making all efforts in conducting special recruitment drives to make good the shortfalls. Shortages of service personnel are also being progressively reduced through additional recruitments.
14. With regards to sports, it is a matter of great pride that our sportsmen have consistently done the country proud in the International arena. 49 Naval sportsmen have so far represented the country at various International sports events during the current year and have won 03 Gold, 02 Silver and 05 Bronze medals, in shooting, boxing, wrestling and canoeing.
15. Sanjeev Rajput of the Navy shooting team won a gold medal during ISSF World Cup and also participated in London Olympics 2012. Omkar Singh of the Navy shooting team has been bestowed with the prestigious “Arjuna Award” for sporting excellence for the year 2012.
16. The most notable event this year has been the flagging off of the Indian Naval Yacht ‘Mhadei’ on 01 Nov 12 from Mumbai. Lt Cdr Abhilash Tomy, the skipper and sole crew member has embarked on a unique voyage termed Sagar-Parikrama II, wherein he will circumnavigate the globe solo, non-stop and unassisted
17. Let me conclude by stating that we are committed to create and sustain a combat ready, technology enabled and networked force, capable of safeguarding our maritime interests and projecting combat power across littorals. We seek to evolve relevant conceptual frameworks and acquire the war fighting capabilities to operate across the full spectrum of conflict on sustained basis. Ensuring combat readiness will therefore remain our primary focus. We will also be prepared to undertake benign and humanitarian tasks in our region, whenever required. Our operational endeavors shall be underpinned by continuous upgradation of our human skills and a willingness to transform as required by adopting change.
Thank you very much. Jai Hind.
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