New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday asked the Indian Navy to remain “vigilant” and “ever ready” in view of “recent developments” in the maritime neighbourhood, and assured that the shortfalls it is facing will be addressed soon.
Addressing top commanders of Indian Navy at the Naval Commanders’ Conference, the minister also lauded the force for maintaining high operational tempo through last year.
“Taking note of the recent developments in our maritime neighbourhood, she emphasised the need for the Indian Navy to be strong at sea, and be ever ready and vigilant to counter any challenges in the maritime domain,” an official statement quoted Sitharaman as saying.
Her comments came against the backdrop of India’s concern over the increased presence of Chinese warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region, and increased tension in the South China Sea. India has been stressing that it is in support of freedom of navigation and rule of international law, and Sitharaman also raised the issue in her speech in the recent meeting of Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM Plus) in Manila.
Sitharaman also assured the Navy that the shortfalls it is facing in terms of ship-borne multi-role helicopters, conventional submarines and mine counter measure vessels, which need urgent redressal to maintain the force’s combat edge.
She said that these issues were being given due impetus and efforts were in hand to mitigate these shortcomings at the earliest.
Sitharaman lauded the Navy for the high operational tempo maintained in the last one year through regular deployment of ships, submarines and aircraft from the South China Sea and Sea of Japan in the East to the Persian Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean in the West and the shores of Australia in the South including the focused efforts to deter piracy attempts off the Gulf of Aden.
She also commended Navy’s efforts to constructively engage with the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) littorals to build their capacities and enhance their capabilities and mentioned the initiatives taken to impart practical training for naval personnel from these nations on a regular basis.
Sitharaman added that maritime interests of a nation have a vital relationship with its economic growth and these will be protected at all costs by ensuring a strong and credible Indian Navy.
About the Make in India programme, she said Indian Navy has taken lead in indigenisation and self-reliance.
The four-day long Naval Commanders’ Conference started on Tuesday, and will conclude on Friday.
The conference also reviewed Navy’s readiness to deploy over the entire range of missions in the maritime domain.
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