The Defence Minister extended support to the long-term capability acquisition plans of the Indian Navy that have been formulated with a strategic view of the Indo-Pacific Region
The first Biannual Naval Commanders’ Conference of 2018 was held from May 8 to 11, 2018. Intense deliberations over a wide range of issues were presided over by Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Chief of the Naval Staff. The Conference was inaugurated by the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who lauded the role of the Indian Navy as a force to reckon with in the Indo-Pacific Region and is held in high esteem as a stabilising force within the region. The Minister assured the Naval Commanders that endeavours to bridge critical capability gaps in ship-borne helicopters, fleet support ships and submarines would be progressed by the Government.
Amid China’s presence in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), the Indian Navy has flagged its need for ship-borne helicopters, fleet support ships and submarines.
The Defence Minister also extended support to the long-term capability acquisition plans of the Indian Navy that have been formulated with a strategic view of the Indo-Pacific region. The imperative need for approval of the second indigenous aircraft carrier for the Navy was also deliberated upon. This project along with the other shipbuilding projects already underway or are in the pipeline including mine counter measure vessels (MCMVs), landing platform dock (LPD), anti-submarine shallow water craft, diving support vessels and survey vessels were expected to provide a major thrust to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.
Major shipbuilding projects in Indian Shipyards, both in Private and Public sectors result in the creation of jobs at these Shipyards as well as encouragement to MSMEs to develop indigenous technologies and manufacturing units in support of these major shipbuilding projects. The 15-year ‘Naval Indigenisation Plan’ promulgated in 2015 by the Indian Navy has set the tone for the Indian Industry to create infrastructure, skilling and jobs.
The Conference also undertook a review of the Indian Navy’s mission-based deployments. The review was aimed at maximising benefits accrued from the deployment of Indian Navy ships and aircraft to critical areas within the IOR. Measures such as information sharing with other navies as well as combining defence diplomacy initiatives such as bi-lateral exercises and port visits into these deployments were planned to be undertaken.
The Indian Navy’s new Transition Cycle for ships from maintenance to operations was also reviewed by the Commanders. This has resulted in considerable improvement in combat efficiency and crew proficiency of ships undergoing the new Transition Cycle. The new Transition Cycle has also resulted in the overall improvement of op logistics, spares management and forecasting, refit planning and expenditure management.
The Naval Commanders’ Conference also saw the inauguration of a new Digital Library available pan-Navy for knowledge management and retrieval including archiving of critical data and information. This was complemented by deliberations on the security and hardening of naval data networks in keeping with contemporary cyber security practices. In keeping with the Indian Navy’s ethos of harnessing niche technologies, concrete plans to incorporate Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence into the Indian Navy’s (Blue Water Force) operational functioning have also been formulated.
The Naval Commanders also interacted with Arvind Subramanian, the then Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India, the Chiefs of the Army and Air Force. The second edition of the Naval Commanders’ Conference 2018 is scheduled during October-November 2018.