The International Fleet Review, the second in the country, on the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal off Visakhapanam on Saturday provided a big opportunity to the Indian Navy to showcase its might, even as its ships anchored alongside foreign vessels in a spirit of camaraderie and bonhomie.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, reviewed the fleet on the Presidential Yacht INS Sumitra , accompanied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Robin K. Dhowan. Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu were also present.
As the Presidential column set sail, around 100 ships of the Indian Navy and navies across the globe dotted the seascape in six columns with their sailors clad in white in grand salutation. There were 24 foreign ships, 65 Indian Navy ships, three submarines, two Coast Guard ships and three merchant marine ships. Fifty-one navies sent either their ships or delegations to the IFR. Calling upon navies to re-focus their efforts on countering the rising tide of non-traditional maritime challenges in view of the global nature of political and economic environment, Mr. Mukherjee said the country had established a credible record of cooperative initiatives to promote stability of the oceans by realigning its maritime strategy. Mr. Mukherjee said India’s geographical location on major shipping routes of the Indian Ocean gave it a pivotal maritime role, and the Indian Navy played a central role in ensuring the safety of the vital sea lines of communication across the ocean. Describing the fleet at the IFR as “imposing international parade of ships,” Mr. Mukherjee said its bringing together navies from across the globe to the Indian shores for IFR 2016 has signified “our common desire to use the seas to promote peace, cooperation and friendship as also develop partnerships for a secure maritime future as the blue ‘commons’ link one another, true to the theme of IFR — United Through Oceans.”
India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat , the world’s oldest aircraft carrier on its last voyage, stood majestically even as the baby of the Indian Navy, ASW INS Kadmatt , formed part of the Indian fleet.
The review with Mr. Mukherjee sailing on the indigenously built naval offshore patrol vessel INS Sumitra began with sail training ship INS Tarangini and went past the Indian fleet, including destroyers, carrier ships, frigates, offshore patrol vessels, missile boats, training ships and three submarines and ships of the Indian Coast Guard as a part of the review.
USS Antietam , HMS Defender , HMAS Darwin , Provence of the French Navy, one each from Japan and Russia and two ships from China were among the foreign ships that participated.
The Navy also showcased its air prowess with a fly-past.
Forty-five naval aircraft formed 15 formations. Chetaks, Sea Kings, helobatics by advanced light helicopters Dhruvs, Kamov-31, Coast Guard’s Dornier craft, Sea Dragon, long-range reconnaissance aircraft P8I, Sea Harriers and MiG 29Ks zoomed past the Presidential Yacht in formation.