The Indian Navy is celebrating Navy Day today, the 4th December, 2009 as a tribute to the valiant maritime operations taken by the Indian Navy during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. The Naval component of the Andaman & Nicobar Command is carrying out various events spread over a week also known as “Navy Week” beginning today. Intensified maritime surveillance and other operational tasks by the Navy in the Andaman Sea region have been the principal thrust of the Joint Andaman & Nicobar Command.
Navy Day is the anniversary of the daredevil attack on Pakistan’s only naval base at Karachi, in 1971. Besides, “the Indian Navy has made an enormous contribution to our Islands. From providing security to these Islands for over forty years to establishing lines of communication over the far reaches of these islands to specialized medical attention to its denizens when needed. The yeoman job rendered by the naval component of the Joint Command in relief and evacuation during the catastrophic Tsunami that struck the Islands on 26th December, 2004, is an unforgettable service to the Islanders,” said Lt. Gen. (Retd) Bhopinder Singh, while greeting the Indian Navy.
Let me proudly share with you all, dear friends, on this momentous occasion, certain salient facts and figures about the historic establishment of the first ever Integrated Command in the country.
The First Integrated Command:
The location of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands confers great strategic advantage. Their economic and tourist potential also dictate a sound security presence. As India’s Easternmost Bastion, the ANC is charged with the responsibility for the defense of the A & N territories, its air space and waters. ANC is raised as India ‘Look East Policy’, of reaching out to the defense of India’s maritime neighbors and building ‘Bridges of friendship’.
The Andaman & Nicobar archipelago of over 572 islands & islets stretches like a necklace around the Andaman Sea. North to south, the chain extends over 720 kilometers. At its widest, its only 51 kilometers. Constituting approximately 8249 square Km of landmass, the islands have 1912 Km of coastline. The archipelago is at a distance of approximately 1200 Km from India’s Eastern seaboard and 450 Km from the Malay Peninsula. Myanmar’s Coco Islands towards the North are just 42 Km away and Aceh in Indonesia is 163 Km from the southernmost tip of Great Nicobar Island, which, in fact, is also India’s southernmost tip.
After the 1962 war, a need was felt to enhance military presence in these Islands. Consequently, INS Jarawa was commissioned at Port Blair on 15th February, 1964. This was followed by the commissioning of INS Kardip at Kamorta on 28th April, 1973. The establishment was renamed – Fortress A & N (FORTAN) in 1981with a Rear Admiral as the Fortress Commander. Utkrosh Air Station was commissioned on 11th May, 1985. The Fortress Commander was upgraded to a three star appointment in 1987. FORTAN got a Tri-service character with the induction of 108 Mountain Brigade from Lekhabali (Arunachal Pradesh) on 15th December, 1990 and the raising of 37 Wing at Car Nicobar on 16th September, 1993. As regards, Coast Guard, the Regional Headquarters was amongst the first three Regional HQs that were set up after the enactment of the Coast Guard Act in 1978.
Further, the Government of India approved the establishment of the ANC as an Integrated Command on 11th May, 2001. The directive from Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) on setting up of ANC was issued and the Command was raised on 8th October, 2001, under the first Commander-in-Chief A & N (CINCAN), Vice Admiral Arun Prakash, AVSM (Ati Vishishta Seva Medal), VrC, and VSM. All components of the three services and Coast Guard located in the Islands were placed under the operational command of CINCAN.
Vice Admiral Arun Prakash with then Lt. Governor, Prof Ram Kapse and Lt Gen Aditya Singh
Salute to the Indian Navy! JAI HIND!!!
Data & figures courtesy: The Daily Telegrams