Antony stresses on safety at Navy Commanders’ meet

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New Delhi, November 21:  Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday urged the Navy to optimally operate and maintain its “assets and hardware, as well as train its personnel suitably so that such national resources are optimally utilised and are not frittered away.”

Speaking at the inauguration of the Naval Commanders’ Conference here, Mr. Antony described the loss of 18 crew members on board INS Sindhurakshak on the eve of Independence Day this year as “an unprecedented tragedy.”

There was need to seriously reflect upon the incident, analyse it and also draw lessons for future even as attempts to salvage the submarine and an inquiry to ascertain the possible cause of the accident was on.

‘Safety mechanisms’

“It must be ensured that safety mechanisms are accorded topmost priority and Standard Operating Procedures are adhered to strictly and without any exception,” he said.

Significant amount of national resources were utilised in the creation of assets and in building capabilities and thus it was the responsibility of the Navy to optimally operate and maintain these. There have been some isolated cases which have proved to be a cause of serious concern and embarrassment. “It is imperative to pay utmost attention to such instances and make earnest efforts to minimise, if not eliminate them.”

Mr. Antony expressed the confidence that the Navy Commanders would take a critical look at the deficient areas and help in charting out a futuristic, visionary road map for the Navy.

Complimenting the Navy on the commissioning of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, he said coupled with the MiG 29K aircraft, the carrier had the potential to become a force multiplier in enhancing the Navy’s combat capability.

Over the last six months, the Navy had inducted an impressive range of platforms, including the P 8I aircraft and the Goa Shipyard Limited-built Offshore Patrol Vessel.

In the coming months, the first ships of P 15A, Kolkata and P 28, Kamorta would be inducted into the Navy apart from additional P 8I and Advance Jet Trainer aircraft.

“The fact that all 45 naval ships presently under construction are being built in India is ample proof of our indigenous ship building capability,” he said.

Building of Arihant

The strategic deterrence capability of the country had also been enhanced by the achievement of criticality of the reactor on board Arihant submarine. “Once we reach the next milestone, namely commencement of sea trials of the submarine, it would make India only the sixth nation in the world to build and operate nuclear-powered submarines. This would mark another stride forward in realising our long-cherished objective of achieving nuclear triad capability.”

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