The Chief of the Naval Staff reviews critical operational and administrative issues in the Navy biannually, during the Naval Commanders’ Conference. The first edition of this conference for 2015 is scheduled at New Delhi from 25 to 28 May 15. The Conference comes in the wake of a high tempo campaign season for the Navy, starting with Op Neer in Maldives during December 14, the Theatre Readiness Operational Level Exercise (TROPEX) in Jan/ Feb 15, Op Rahat in Yemen during Mar/ Apr 15 and the joint operation with the Coast Guard to nab drug runners off the Indian coast in Apr 15. Coming against the backdrop of numerous successful operations, it is axiomatic that the conference will provide a valuable opportunity to discuss issues of operational relevance, identify capability gaps and review future plans.
The conference will cover a wide spectrum of issues relating to operations, infrastructure and manpower, including operational readiness of the Commands and issues relating to coastal security. Strengthening cyber security in the Indian Navy would be another key area of discussion.
The focus of Commanders’ Conference will be on creation of operational, technical, maintenance and administrative infrastructure, addressing issues pertaining to induction of manpower, aspects pertaining to training and skill development, and welfare of personnel. Consequent to 2015 being observed as the ‘Year of the Sailor’ in the Indian Navy, service conditions of sailors and their quality of life is being discussed as the primary focus issue. Further, in order to develop ecologically sustainable infrastructure, green initiatives being undertaken and planned to be implemented over the next few years are also being discussed as one of the focus issues. Towards this, the Indian Navy has undertaken a comprehensive study and formulated an integrated roadmap and an action plan, which will be presented during the Commanders’ Conference. The initiatives, inter alia, include introduction of Marine Pollution (MARPOL) compliant equipment, replacement of Ozone depleting Chlorofluoro Carbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluoro Carbons (HCFCs) with environment-friendly material, recourse to renewable sources of energy, viz. Solar, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, use of bio-diesel, etc. The aim is to achieve zero carbon foot print in the future.
Another significant aspect that will bear discussion is consolidation and strengthening of the rapidly expanding aviation arm of the Navy. Deliberations would be held on infrastructure and manning requirements for new induction aircraft, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and enhancement of surveillance. A further critical area covered would be the strengthening of Maritime Operations Centres for collation and analysis of vast swaths of information from a multitude of sources to enable alacrity and effectiveness of operations in all four dimensions.
Consequent to the envisaged growth in the Indian Navy force levels over the next two Plan periods, there is a concomitant need to enhance the induction rate of officers and sailors. Consequently, plans for infrastructure and capacity enhancement of Indian Naval Academy, the premier training establishment of the Indian Navy, will be reviewed during the Commanders’ Conference.
A review of conditions of service and emoluments paid to the Armed Forces personnel is being undertaken by the 7th Central Pay Commission. In order to ensure that the aspirations and expectations of Indian Navy personnel, along with the difficult conditions of service onboard operational platforms is recognized, various proposals from the Indian Navy have been forwarded for consideration of the 7th CPC. A comprehensive review of proposals is planned during the Commanders’ Conference.
Indian Navy is the premier maritime Service of the Nation and sailing is the foremost ‘natural’ ability associated with the Navy. Indian Navy aims to gain pre-eminence in this sport and produce sportspersons of national/ international abilities. Therefore, induction of talented yachtsmen and women as Short Service Commissioned officers is under consideration. Further, steps have been taken for the procurement of Olympics-class boats to provide world class environment for adequate training and future commitments/ competitions.
The long-term sustenance of Indian Navy’s Capital assets and their efficient performance at Sea necessitates periodic conduct of refits. Although there are laid down durations for each refit, during which the ships undergo extensive servicing/ overhauling, a new methodology for undertaking Performance Based Refits is planned to be deliberated during the Commanders’ Conference.
The Commanders’ would also interact with MoD officials to discuss key cases pending with the Government, which pertain to infrastructure development and capability enhancement. Status of cases considered critical for bridging the capability gaps existing in the Indian Navy and also necessary for keeping up with the growth envisaged in the Maritime Capability Perspective Plan would be highlighted.
(Text and photos by Ministry of Defence, New Delhi)