The Indian Navy’s International Fleet Review (IFR) to salute Supreme Commander President Pranab Mukherjee was held at Vishakapatnam from 4th to 9th Feb with a Maritime Exhibition in the University Grounds, an Opening Ceremony show of India, the Grand Presidential Review of 100 ships off Vishakapatnam with Admiral RK Dhowan CNS in command, an International Band concert, and a concluding ceremony with Pyrotechnics and an OP DEMO and International March past on the famous RK Beach Road. A small Navy and young officers saw delegation and clear orders for execution. All ex Chiefs, Vice Chiefs and C-n C East were invited and looked after with traditional Naval hospitality.
On the last day 36 Indian Naval ships and aircraft including two aircraft carriers led by Rear Admiral Ravneet Singh Flag Officer Western Fleet on INS Vikramaditya flying off three Mig-29Ks and three Sea Harriers from Viraat bid Goodbye at sea after PASSEX to the 24 foreign warships big and small, some 70 miles from Vishakapatnam. Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni saw off CNS at 1000 on 9th Feb in an IAF Embraer and took a helicopter to Fly his Flag on INS SUMITRA and flagged off the three sail Training ships Tarangini, Sudarshnini and all women crew Mhadevi some 20 miles off Vishkapatnam to a race to Chennai.
Some nostalgic memories remained as it was truly a show to remember and Vishakapatnam was decorated and painted and cleaned to match Singapore in areas where IFR was held. All lighting was in national colours and a small Navy showed India’s capability to undertake a world class flawless event on a budget and CM Chandra Babu Naidu galvanized Andhra and did not crib ! India needs leadership and mor like him in politics. They say he is honest a rarity.
IFR-2016 therefore must be seen as an amazing well orgainsed event and www.indiadefenceforum.com tells you about the event where a frustrated media was more concerned about Bollywood actors as they did not understand ships and what a review is, looking only for parties. Doordarshan on TV told its audience that Adm RK Dhowan is Commander of the Navy Command as many of the 22 Chiefs at IDF were called Chief of Naval Staff or C-in–C Navy and only small nations’ with small navies like Maldives, D’joubiti with Army officers were listed as Commander of the Navy and were at IFR.
Doordarshan lost voice contact and borrowed AIR Commentary for a while and AIR commentary was B’cast live on ships in the Review line and was appreciated by sailors and officers who lined the decks and could not watch TV. AIR was professional they commented. TV is a ver important medium and DD has little clue on military B’casts and needs professionalism, but pays more than AIR so better looking Girls and friends are preferred !
The Navy’’s choreographed catchy tune, ‘Ahoy, Hello Namaste… We Are United Through The Oceans Blue’ for IFR 2016. https://youtu.be/T8zWrC1zFQg was a hit with foreigners and even Telugu speaking people who switch channels when Hindi news is B’cast reports IDF.
The tune even got known at Singapore Air show through Zee TV which is aired in Singapore and the Singaporean Navy band took part in the International March Past at IFR where Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the salute. PM Modi seldom smiles but that day he did.
Navy copied the Republic Day in a racy 40 minute tight March Past by 18 navies’ contingents and just two Navy Tableaus and ending with an uall Indian dance number to AHOY HELLO NAMASTE. A student contingent of dancers from Vishakapatnam followed each foreign contingent donning native dresses of that country and danced that country’s dance in that nations’ language ……A superlative idea as it wished Chinese HAPPY NEW YEAR on 8th with the Monkey sign.
IDF wondered if there is a CDS now in India and Chiefs are now just Commanders ! No more of that as IFR-2016 was as professional as it can get and residents, hotels, shops and institutions of Vishakapatnam cleaned the city, painted their premises and put up lights of the Indian tri-colour and PM Modi took credit for Swach Bharat, but IDF gives full credit to wonderful Telugu people of Andhra and 1.5 lac came to the beach to enjoy the OP DEMO which was real with a tank landing from an LCU with guns booming and MARCOS in elements, and the International Parade better than the Choreography of Republic Day and short and sweet ! CO Circars devised a country like dance with that nations clothes after each of the 20 contingents ………even after the Chinese contingent the students looked Chinese celebrating the Chinese Monkey New Year with ‘Gong He Fat Chou’.
Much credit to CNS Adm RK Dhowan and his PSO’s and IFR team for the superb direction with many tele-conferences and no Interference so equal credit to conductor Vadm Satish Soni the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command under whose aegis India’s Supreme Commander and President Pranab Mukherjee was received with 120 man Naval guard at INS Circars jetty and a 21 gun salute by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to review the 100 ships ending with three Kilos and missile boats doing a high speed run past on 6th Feb. The hundred ships, included 72 Indian warships, 3 merchant and 3 Coast Guard ships and 22 invited foreign warships including HMAS Darwin, China’s Liuzhou and Sanya, Jinakau2 class, FS Provence a FREMM with Aster Long Range , Iran’s IS over 30 years old Alvand in good shape, Japan’s JS Matsuyuki, South Africa’s SAS Spioenkop, HMS Defender the latest Anti Warfare Daring class warship in the world and USA’s two 9,000 ton Ticonderoga class Antietam and Mc Cambell and others were anchored for the static Review in six columns. Indian built INS Kolkutta looked impressive and INS Vikramaditya and Viraat looked like power of India and newest bride ASW corvette INS Kadmatt from GRSE made Indians proud !
President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute of the columns with ‘Three Jais’ from the Presidential Yacht, the 2200 ton INS Sumitra built by Goa Shipyard Ltd under the command of Cdr Milind Mokashi son of an army officer as she passed ships. Forty five aircraft concluded the review with a fly past and aerobatics including P8i, Hawks-132 , KA-31, Sea Harriers, naval and Coast Guard Dorniers-228 and Mig-29Ks when three Kilo class submarines and missile boats executed a high speed mobile steam past the Presidential Yacht. The army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh and Air Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha were among the VIP guests with Governor EM Narasimhan an ex IB Chief and CM Naidu.
Addressing the Review from his yacht, a pleased President Mukherjee said that IFR 2016, while showcasing the prowess of the Indian Navy, has brought together Navies from across the globe to Indian shores, signifying India’s and their common desire to use the seas to promote peace, cooperation and friendship, as also to develop partnerships for a secure maritime future, which was the theme of IFR-16, 11th in the series.
India’s home built SSBN nuclear submarine Arihant was included in the IFR list with its details and Captain’s name but was missed and attracted attention, as Vishakapatnam is her home port and was built there at the Ship Building Centre (SBC) along with two bigger SSBNs and has been operating at sea for trials underwater on nuclear power. The final nuclear capable 750 km ranged K-15/B-05 missile firing trials are awaited before Arihant commissions and joins India’s Strategic Forces to complete the Nuclear deterrence Triad for second strike in India’s ‘No First Use’ nuclear policy.
Fifty foreign delegates which included 25 Chiefs of Navies including Australia’s Vadm Tim Barret, Brazil’s Adm Leal Ferreira Indonesia’s Adm Ade Supardi, Germany’s Vadm Andreas Krause, Singapore’s Adm Lai Chung Han, South Africa’s Vadm MS Hlongwane, and US CNO USN Adm JM Richardson and others at IFR, all attended the Review, the band concert of combined bands, the Presidential Banquet and took part in a Conference on ‘Partnering Together For a Secure Maritime Future’. They also witnessed the OPDEMO from the beach on 8th Feb when PM Modi was Chief Guest with an ingeniously choreographed International Parade of ships’ companies and bands. Over 150,000 thronged the long Beach road and on 9th Feb ships did a PASSEX in the Bay of Bengal on 9th morning and said ‘Good Byes at Sea’ with cross deck helicopter flying and witnessed MiG29K and Sea Harrier operations by India’s aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and Viraat respectively.
The people of Vishakapatnam under Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu left no stone unturned to display Indian hospitality to the guests and Navy. Vishakapatnam appropriately earned the sobriquet, ‘The Naval City of India’ and PM Narendra Modi said, “The concept of indivisible seas is today a political, economic and strategic reality. Economic progress of nations in the Blue Economy of tomorrow is linked to safe seas, free for all to use. Maintaining stability of oceans is the shared responsibility of all nations and it is incumbent for nations to synergise efforts for the common benefit of the global community and to secure a better and more prosperous future for generations to come in times when maritime security challenges, across the oceans of the world, have magnified the responsibilities of navies. IFR 2016 beckoned nations across the world, to join us in our quest to promote safety, security and stability across the oceans of the world”.