Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will on Monday (March 6) address the inaugural session of the bi-annual Naval Commanders’ Conference on board INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, in the Arabian Sea off Goa.
Rajnath Singh, the Indian Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Dinesh Tripathi, and other top officials of the Indian Navy will be part of the conference.
Tomorrow, 6th March, I shall be reaching Goa to attend the Naval Commanders' Conference.
Shall address the Naval Commanders onboard India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, @IN_R11Vikrant, on the conference's opening day. Look forward to it. https://t.co/6EJy3TRePt pic.twitter.com/pnOUWsJGDR
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) March 5, 2023
The opening day of the five-day conference will be held at sea, the official said.
This conference is being held on board INS Vikrant six months after the aircraft carrier was commissioned into the navy.
Platform to discuss maritime security issues
The conference serves as a platform for naval commanders to discuss important security issues at the military-strategic level as well as interact with senior government functionaries under an institutionalized framework.
Enhancing India’s naval prowess and boosting tri-services synergy are set to be the focus of the conference.
Also read: INS Vikrant heralds in a new era in India’s domestic defence capabilities
“Due to the prevailing geostrategic situation in the region, the conference has its own significance and relevance. The navy has witnessed significant growth in its operational tasking over the years in consonance with India’s growing maritime interests. The commanders would also deliberate the navy’s readiness to address the challenges to our maritime interests. The Indian Navy remains focused on being a combat-ready, credible, cohesive, and future-proof force, and continues to assiduously execute its mandate as the maritime security guarantor of the country,” said a statement.
The discussions at the conference will cover issues related to combat readiness, logistics, training, operations, human resource development, and indigenization, and will also address the developments in the Indian Ocean region, where China is asserting itself more and more in an effort to expand its presence.
It is rare for such top conferences to be held on board aircraft carriers or warships. In December 2015, for the first time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired the combined commanders’ conference on board INS Vikramaditya, India’s other aircraft carrier, off the Kochi coast.
“The novelty of this year’s conference lies in the fact that the first phase of the commanders’ conference is being held at sea, and for the first time, onboard India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant,” the Navy said.
Also read: Why INS Vikrant is a stunning feat and what India should do next
Conference to address tri-services synergy
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande, and Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari will also interact with the naval commanders to address the convergence of the three services vis-à-vis common operational environment. They are also expected to focus on avenues for augmenting tri-services synergy and readiness towards the defence of the nation and India’s national interests.
An operational demonstration at sea is also planned as part of the activities on the first day of the conference.
During the conference, the naval commanders would also be provided with an update on the implementation of the Agnipath scheme. The first batch of naval Agniveers, including the first batch of women recruits, under the scheme is scheduled to pass out from INS Chilka in the end of March.
Built at the cost of around Rs 23,000 crore at Cochin Shipyard, INS Vikrant has a sophisticated air defense network and anti-ship missile system and has the capacity to hold 30 fighter jets and helicopters. At the commissioning ceremony of the vessel, Prime Minister Modi called it a “floating city” and that it was a reflection of India becoming self-reliant in defence.
Only five other nations have the capability to build aircraft carriers of the size of Vikrant – Russia, US, the UK, China, and France.
This is India’s second operational aircraft carrier, apart from INS Vikramaditya. The Indian Navy says it needs at least three such aircraft carriers to adequately cover the vast area under its responsibility.
(With Agency inputs)