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Navy chief Dhowan declares INS Vikramaditya operational

While replying to a question on an apparent delay in operationalising the fully refurbished Soviet era aircraft ‘cruiser’ now called a Carrier, Dhowan stated: “If you do not consider the voyage from (Sevmarsh) Russia (in the White Sea near the North Pole) to the Arabian Sea to be not a sign of fitness, you would be wrong. There is also the question of integrating the MiG-29 Ks with the Carrier. I take this opportunity to declare the INS Vikramaditya operational. Now, there is a process of consolidation on.”

However, in this edition of the annual press conference, the admiral spent a great deal of time on the asynmmetric threats coming from the sea. “We used to consider the oceans to be benign. But (26/11) has shown that maritime terrorism as a clear possibility.”

Giving a full account of what has transpired in the country, in terms of coastal security, including the recent inauguration of IMAC (Information Management and Analysis Centre), Dhowan gave a picture of coastal security preparedness, that is not necessarily borne by facts, in some accounts. But, importantly, in reply to another question about the Pakistan navy – the recent mujaheedin attack on a naval base where they tried to commandeer a frigate – the CNS stated that in the high seas, if an Indian Navy ship sees a Pakistan navy vessel on the horizon, they consider it a potential “threat.”

Commenting on the maintenance part of the ships and some of the recent incidents of mishaps, Dhowan effectively made the point that that the two submarines, one of which sank and the other caught fire at the battery chamber, that, “The submarines are dangerous platforms. They have both explosives and fuel in close confines.” Any mishandling of either can cause fire. In the case of INS Sindhurakshak, the CNS stated that there was a breach in the standard operating procedure.
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