Chief Quits, Indian Navy 'Succession Line' Thrown Out Of Gear

With Admiral DK Joshi's resignation as Chief of Naval Staff on Wednesday, the entire seniority-based succession line to the Navy Chief's post has dramatically changed.

Admiral DK Joshi was to demit office as navy chief in Aug 2015. On his retirement, the Navy's current Southern Command chief Vice Admiral Satish Soni would have taken over as Navy chief, followed by Vice Admiral Girish Luthra (currently Director, Naval Operations), and then Rear Admiral Ajith Kumar (currently Commandant, Naval Academy, Ezhimala). That line died with Admiral Joshi throwing in the towel 18 months before he was to retire.

The current officer officiating as Navy chief is Vice Admiral Robin Dhowan, Vice Chief of Naval Staff. If he is chosen as the next Navy chief, his tenure will be extended by two years, since he retires on March 31. His appointment is one of two possibilities.

If Dhowan isn't appointed chief by March 31, the government will pick one of the following officers: Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha or Eastern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Anil Chopra. While Admiral Sinha is the senior between the two, the government is unlikely to choose him since most of the incidents/accidents over the last few months that have precipitated the dramatic exit of the Navy chief, happened under the jurisdiction of Sinha's command. Therefore, Vice Adm Chopra appears to be the more probable of the two. His name, therefore, is the second of two possibilities.

If Chopra is appointed Navy chief, officers down the line in waiting to be future chiefs include Vice Admiral Pradeep Chatterjee (currently Deputy Chief of Naval Staff) and Vice Admiral SPS Cheema (currently chief of the Strategic Forces Command).

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