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The Indian Navy Needs an Overhaul

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MG is an air warrior with a distinguished career and now a corporate advisor, writer, and intrepid traveler and novelist

flagship of the fleet

flagship of the fleet

The beginning

India inherited a Navy from the British. Known as the Royal Indian Navy it was divided between India and the newly created state of Pakistan.In 1947, it had only six sloops, four frigates, one corvette, 16 minesweepers, one survey vessel, six trawlers, six motor minesweepers, one motor launch, and eight harbor bosts.The Indian Navy after independence acquired the cruiser INS Delhi. This 7030-ton cruiser became the flagship of the Indian fleet.

It was followed by INS Mysore another 8000-ton cruiser. INS Delhi was retired and the Indian Navy has left again with one cruiser. The navy then was just a coastal defence force. It had no operational role in the 1965 war with Pakistan and the Goa operations in 1961. When the division of the Navy was done in 1947 between India and Pakistan 47% of the naval personal opted to go to Pakistan and the remaining served with the Indian navy.


The Naval top brass felt the need to have greater reach and punch. This resulted in acquiring an old Second World War British carrier named HMS Hermes. This carrier was used in the Falkland war and had a checkered history. This was christened the Vikrant and became part of the fleet. The navy also expanded and Russian submarines and frigates were inducted into the fleet. The 1971 war showed that the Navy. if given a task could accomplish it and this showed in the blockade of East Pakistan and the destruction of the Chittagong port. The aircraft carrier Vikrant played a stellar role in the blockade off the port of Chittagong in East Pakistan. Naval gunboats also approached Karachi harbor and set it ablaze with missile hits.

This was the time when the Navy should have expanded and thought of responsibilities beyond the coast of India. But it did not happen and the one carrier concept continued till the present time. Thus after the Vikrant, the Virat came, and now a Russian-built carrier has joined the fleet. It has been christened the Vikramaditya. It displaces 44,000 tons and is the flagship of the Indian feet. This carrier has had a lot of problems and the number of times it has been in dry dock undergoing repairs.


The present

Compared to China which is India's main rival in Asia, the Indian navy is short of operational capability beyond the sea limits of India. Thus operating in places like the China Sea to protect Indian interests like oil drilling and exploration is well nigh an impossibility. For this, the government alone is to blame. Compare this with the Chinese feverish construction of 20 Aircraft carriers and one can realize what India plans to do with one carrier. There is another aircraft carrier under construction at Cochin but it is a long way off for it to become seaworthy and may not be fully operational even by 2025

India has a coast of 3000 miles and our interests go much beyond the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca. Unfortunately, the Indian Navy just does not have the capability to match the Chinese in these areas. China has bases in the Indian Ocean and it is ringing India. For a deterrent, India needs nuclear-powered submarines. Unfortunately, we are lagging in this field as well. The Russians had given one nuclear-powered submarine to India which was christened Chakra but it is not armed with any weapons as per the conditions of the lease.

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It is about time that the Naval top brass and the Indian government realized that a navy capable of operating in a global scenario is a must for great power status. There is a realization of this with the advent of the Modi government and warships, submarines, and frigates are being added to the fleet but yet it remains less than half the strength of the Chinese fleet.

There have been positive developments with the arrival of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and India has started a naval partnership with the United States as well as joined the Quad alliance with Australia, Japan, and the USA against China. This has tilted the scales against China.


MG Singh (author) from UAE on April 01, 2021:

Thanks tom, one of the reasons that the Navy has been neglected is that India never had a marine warfare history and most of it concerned some coastal defence boats. There is no record of any Indian king having any powerful navy and this negativity continued. After 1947 we had people like Nehru who never had any concept of what is military strategy or naval strategy and all he was interested in was moving around the globe as a great third world leader and in the process he sank the Indian state.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on March 26, 2021:

Tom, thank you. Yes you are right but India has left most activities to US ~Navy B

because we do not have a big defense budget. When India became free in 1947 the priority was different and that's why India lost to China which I think has three times more ships in the Navy and is planning on 20 aircraft carriers.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on March 21, 2021:

David, thanks, what you write is inevitable though the navy is now being more importance.

David Issac on March 21, 2021:

Nice article, the fact is with the threat from the land from China and Pakistan omnipresent, the navy got very little funds from the defense budget.

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