Proactive Naval deployment since Ladakh standoff deterred misadventure: Navy Chief

Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar Friday said the force’s “proactive deployment” of ships in the Indian Ocean Region — amid the standoff with China — deterred any potential “misadventure”.

Kumar said when there was “an issue on the northern border, our ships were forward deployed” and other ships were ready if the situation escalated. He said the Navy kept Chinese warships “under close surveillance” and continues to do so even now.

Kumar, speaking to reporters on the eve of Navy Day, also said the details of the Maritime Theatre Command are still under discussion and that its basic structure will be ready by the middle of next year.

The Navy Chief, who took over on November 30, also flagged the complications posed by the pandemic which, he said, “defined the last two years”.

“In addition, the ongoing security situation on our northern borders has added to our security complexities. This dual-challenge scenario continues as we speak and the country, collectively, continues to focus its efforts to battle the pandemic, help other nations to control the effects of the pandemic as well as to tackle our security challenges,” the Navy Chief said.

“Despite the disruptive impact of the pandemic, the Navy has maintained its operational readiness and tempo through prompt implementation of preventive protocols,” said Kumar. He added that the Navy’s focus on “maintaining combat and mission readiness resulted in deterring any misadventure in the maritime domain, while contributing to the national Covid effort, both internally and across the seas”.

He said the tri-services are working together on a 10-year Integrated Capacity Development Plan, and that the quantity and quality of the platforms needed by the Navy will become clearer once it is ready by next year.

Kumar said the forthcoming theaterisation was a complicated process. He called it one of the “most significant higher defence organisation reforms” since Independence.

“In a nutshell we are looking at the Maritime Theatre Command where largely the command structures will stay in place with a lean theatre command on top of it with only an operational charter for the new theatre command,” he said.

On the plan for a 170-ship Navy, Kumar said that the number could change as it “factors the capability of each platform”. Asked about Navy’s demand for a third aircraft carrier, Kumar said that a carrier “brings a particular type of capability” with strike power, air defence and surveillance capabilities, which can also protect assets.

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