WHAT'S HOT? –– ANALYSIS OF RECENT
INTERNATIONAL FLEET REVIEW -- MUMBAI, 17 FEB 2001 --
AN 'ON THE SPOT' REPORT
Delhi, 19 Feb 2001
On the left is Iranian ship Alvand and at right the French nuclear submarine Perle at the International Fleet Review, Mumbai, 17 Feb 2001
OF FRIENDSHIP” –– INTERNATIONAL FLEET REVIEW 2001 ––
WITH ELAN BY THE INIDAN NAVY
proof was needed to show that the Indian Navy was once again in
ascendancy, after some years of neglect, there could be no better display
of seamanship, weaponry, organizational skills and attention to detail,
than what was offered at the Mumbai anchorage for five days from 14th
February 2001. Jam packed with 100 warships, it was a powerful sight for
civilians and a treat for those aficionados who love to research men of
war. The latest in weaponry from Exocet missiles to cruising Tomahawks, a
variety of sonars, drum tilt to bassnet radars and an array of antennae
were on view, with 4000 professional officers and men from 19 navies of
the world bragging about their prowess, especially after some spirited
evenings. Much secrecy was shed as nations were hawking their wares.
was friendship and fun in the air as the Indian Navy had made excellent
arrangements to regulate Liberty –– shore leave –– from the Tiger
Gate at Ballard Estate. Even the Australian and American women sailors
decided to team up for a girls’ evening out and as they confided to IDC
at the Taj bar, "we are having a ball but we will not get pissed,
don’t worry". That was true bleu sailor talk!
also experienced meeting Indian sailors and junior officers who handle the
Uran and Kashmir missile systems –– talking with a confidence not
seen before, and that speaks volumes of the Indian Navy's morale ––
notwithstanding the jolts of the Ramdas, Jain and Bhagwat affairs, which
had stained the purity of the white uniform.
if to score a point, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat launched his book ‘BETRAYAL
OF THE DEFENCE FORCES’ (Manas), on the eve of the IFR. Shishir Gupta
in his review in Hindustan Times has graded it ‘worth a read’ as it
makes a case for healthy national debate on India’s strategic and
security concerns. IDC however feel that Bhagwat could have avoided his
criticism of the IFR -- as avoidable expenditure and showmanship (in Rediff).
We maintain that ex-Chiefs should refrain from crticising their successors
Bhagwat’s successor Admiral Sushil Kumar who is also the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Vice Admiral Madhvendra Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command, successfully hosted and steered India's 8th Fleet Review, to honour the country’s ‘Golden Anniversary of Freedom’. in a grand yet professional style. Under their helmsmanship the Navy exuded confidence and went International.
fifty countries were invited to participate and the response was
overwhelming. It was evident that the Navy had the wherewithal and
operational readiness to think
big even in the air, despite US sanctions
hitting their Sea King and Sea Harriers’ operational availability.
However with cannibalization, the Naval Air Wing managed to overcome the
crisis and came out stronger, especially in difficult gear box technology
for the Seakings.
Participation and Funfare
event attracted senior naval delegations from thirty countries, 25 foreign
men of war from 19 of them and there were 17 Chiefs of Naval Staff/CNOs on
hand, which included a five star Admiral of the Fleet Kuroyedov from
Russia, Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh from UK and Vice Admiral John
Shackleton from Australia, who is himself hosting a Review in October. He
paid a tribute to his Indian counterpart by announcing at the press
conference that he was seeking assistance from the IN experience, which he
said had done an outstanding job. Possibly never has any country in the
East except perhaps Singapore (hosting of air shows), attracted the
assembly of so many 'white brass' and bristling men of war.
visitors attended the six diverse and immaculately organised functions.
These included the Review itself by the President on 17th Feb, the
Maritime Seminar (IDC will report it separately in detail as it was path
breaking), the Band Concerts, the first ever International Beating of the
Retreat Ceremony by massed bands at the Gateway of India, which was a
truly impressive and touching ceremony, (conducted by Cdr Anchees of the
IN), the colourful International City Parade, from Nariman Point on Marine
Drive to Chowpatty beach, in which Army units and IAF show teams of the
Surya Kirans and SU-30 participated and the final open collar Admirals’
Dinner at the manicured lawns of the Navy House on the Sea Front alongside
the Yacht Club.
A Maritime Exhibition was organized concurrently by the Indian Maritime Foundation (IMF) in the Atomic Energy Centre at Apollo Bunder and attracted some 20,000 visitors. Mumbai harbour was a spectacle and never before in history wore such a festive look.
Army and Air Force Chiefs Gen S Padmanabhan and Air Chief Marshal AY
Tipnis attended all functions on 17th and 18th Feb. There was a
melee of flag cars with so many pilot trains of VIPs moving about in South
Mumbai and yet to the amazement of Mumbaikars, the vehicular traffic was
not overly disrupted and remained sane. The comment was that 'NEW DELHI
COULD LEARN A LESSON OR TWO'. All rehearsals were completed before 8 am,
and the foreign navies co-operated without hesitation.
IN's traditional salute of ‘Rashtrapati Ki Jai’ three times rent the
air in the roll and pitch. The Governor of Maharashtra Shri P V Alexander
who in fact commissioned INS Viraat at Portsmouth as High Commissioner in
UK, was next to the Presidential dais along with the Home Minister L K
Advani and seven other Cabinet Ministers. The 17 CNOs, former Indian Naval
Chiefs and other dignitaries including Mr Mukesh Ambani were on the
President's Yacht. Ladies were seen enjoying the day and sported Naval
caps with ‘Bridges of Friendship’ embossed across. Fashion was in full
view and the charming Mrs Madhavenra Singh the hostess, who hails from a
Royal Nepali family, tucked her saree pallu around the head and then put
on the cap to shade from the sun. Most ladies followed suit including Mrs
Sushma Swaraj on the top deck. It was comforting and stylish.
the visiting big ships the attractions for sheer show of naval systems and
power of weapons were the French Amethyst class nuclear submarine Perle
(1983); nuclear Tomahawk cruise missile capable USS Cowpens of the
Ticonderoga class with Aegis system, where the whole hull is a radar
receiver and transmitter; the two Russian Udaloy class Admiral Vinogradov
and Pantaleev with long range missiles; and HMS Cumberland, a Type 22
fitted with Harpoons and
laser systems. Amongst the smaller
men of war,
was the latest and most powerful small ship from Malaysia the Jebat, with
the thirty-year old frigate Alvand from Iran. Interestingly a visit to
Alwand showed how well maintained the ship was and the Iranian Navy, which
failed to bring the Kilo Class submarine Nooh, need not be under estimated
as it is a rising naval force in the Persian Gulf.
this backdrop, the significance of this extraordinary event was registered
all round. There is no doubt that India's economy is more robust than ever
before with unemployment figures especially in software related and
technical industries at an all time low in most metropolises. Women
employment ratios are also up and so is the employment of Indians in USA
and the Gulf. The Defence budget has zoomed with major deals totalling US$
International Fleet Review was undoubtedly a booster to India's image and
diplomacy and for that the cost was minimal. The CNS and FOC-in-C West
deserve a BRAVO ZULU (the naval term for ‘well done’) and the officers
and men that took part and supported the show need to be allowed to "SPLICE
THE MAIN BRACE", another naval term meaning a celebration that allowed an extra tot of rum in
days of yore, for a job well done.
Indo-Russian Naval Co-operation
Russian and Indian Navies should strengthen co-operation at all levels,
including in fighting modern maritime menaces like piracy on the seas,
Admiral Vladimir I Kuroyedov, Chief of Staff of the Russian Navy, said on
Monday 19 Feb 2001. In a rare appearance before the press on board the Admiral
Vinogradov, one of the Russian ships participating in the
International Fleet Review 2001, the Russian Admiral questioned the
presence of foreign submarines and fleets in the Indian Ocean. "There
are so many foreign submarines in the Indian Ocean. I don't know what they
are defending," he remarked.
Admiral, who survived the storm caused by the Kursk disaster last
year, refused to discuss the Indian Navy's proposal to lease a nuclear
submarine from Russia or buy the aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov.
But he said the two navies were looking ahead to strengthen the ties that
have existed for 50 years. He pointed out that modern navies face several
threats, primary among them being gun-running and sea piracy. "We
have already put an end to such activities in the Malacca and Singapore
Straits. To do this we must use co-operative efforts. Only when navies
undertake co-operative, anti-piracy, anti-criminal operations can they be
successful. I have told our Indian friends this," he said.
Kuroyedov said his talks in Mumbai with Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sushil
Kumar, focussed on several aspects, including training exchanges for their
sailors. "Indian naval officers and sailors have been training with
us for almost 40 years," he pointed out. The two chiefs discussed the
possibility of future joint exercises and exchanges of ship visits. As a
follow-up, a Russian team called on senior Indian Navy officers on Monday
to decide on the combined exercises on Tuesday as they sailed out.
Asked about safety measures taken in the wake of the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk, Admiral Kuroyedov said it was not the appropriate moment to talk about all that. "It is my private grief," he said as he shied away from the subject.