Will provide strong, credible Navy: new chief

NEW DELHI:

Force modernization and maintaining the high operational tempo will be the two main challenges for new Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, who took over from Admiral Sunil Lanba on Friday with a pledge to "work on the path of predecessors".

"It will be my endeavour to continue with my predecessors' efforts and provide the nation the Navy that is strong, credible and ready to meet any challenges in the maritime domain," the new Navy chief said after taking charge.

A "Grey Eagle" (senior-most naval aviator), Kararambir Singh has been a helicopter pilot and held several key commands, including that of the crucial eastern fleet which operates nuclear submarines.

Keeping up the force levels has been a long-standing challenge for the Navy, which urgently needs more helicopters apart from other platforms to maintain its dominance in the Indian Ocean region.

One of the major tasks for him would be to convince the government about the third carrier option (planned to be a super carrier) which is hanging in balance because of huge costs involved. 

The work on the second carrier also needs to be speeded up as Vikrant, in the making for several years, is expected to be ready for sea trials in mid-2020.

China is already building new carrier based platform and has been following an aggressive maritime policy.

Apart from the surface vessels, the Navy also needs rapid expansion of its nuclear fleet. All these are capital intensive projects that needs to be pushed despite budgetary constraints.

Having flown Chetak, Kamov-25 and Kamov-28 helicopters in his early days, Karambir Singh comes with immense experience spanning 39 years.

He will be the Navy chief till November 2021.

His Sea Command includes Guided Missile Destroyers INS Rana and INS Delhi. 

He also served as Fleet Operations Officer of the Western Fleet and was Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra and Gujarat area. 

Before taking over as FOC-in-C Eastern Naval Command in October 2017, he was the Director General Project Seabird, the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and Vice Chief of the Naval Staff.

Born on November 3, 1959, he was commissioned on July 1, 1980 into the Executive Branch of the Navy.

Admiral Singh's appointment to the top post was hit by a succession row triggered by Andaman and Nicobar command chief Bimal Verma challenging his selection.

Verma's plea that he was overlooked for the top post is pending in the Armed Forces Tribunal though the Defence Ministry has already rejected his objection.

The Tribunal on Wednesday allowed the new chief to take over till a decision on the petition comes.