INS Sardar Patel will give Indian Navy a huge operational advantage in Gujarat coast. Naval officials tell OneIndia that with the commissioning of INS Sardar Patel, the Indian Navy can now ‘take its maritime operational and networking strategies to greater heights.'
Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan was present during the occasion. Ministry of Defence Spokesperson Sitanshu Kar termed the commissioning of station as a historic one.
"It's a proud day for the nation. A major milestone in the glorious history of Indian Navy," Kar said.
Navy lines up prime assets ahead of the event
Indian Navy Spokesperson Capt D K Sharma told OneIndia that a fleet comprising aircraft carrier Viraat, destroyers Kolkata and Delhi, tanker Deepak, four stealth frigates, six missile boats, one OPV, two mobile missile coastal batteries and a handful fast interceptor craft were present outside Porbandar harbour to mark the big day for Navy.
"The missile boats that were present are Vipul, Vidyut, Nirghat, Pralay, Veer and Nashak," Capt Sharma said. The base is expected to give logistical aid to various units operating in the region.
Gujarat coast is key to naval operations
Gujarat has the longest coastline of 880 NM, besides sharing 532 km of land border with Pakistan.
"The maritime infrastructure has grown over the decades and many ports have come up along the coastline, which handles 300 million tons of cargo annually, constituting approx 30% of the total cargo handled in the ports of India," a naval official said.
Navy says there are 12 single point moorings (SPMs) in the Gulf of Kutch, through which about 120 million tons of crude oil is supplied to various refineries on the coast and in the hinterland, constituting 71 per cent of the oil import into the country.
The creation of considerable infrastructure along the coastline makes them vulnerable from sea, not only during hostilities but also during peacetime.
"Gujarat constitutes a key vulnerability in the security calculus of the country. The events of 26/11 have clearly established the threat to the maritime infrastructure in the state from sea, not only during hostilities but also in peacetime," the official said.
Mine Counter Measure Vessels to be added soon
The Navy also forward deploys its units both at Porbandar and Okha, and many of its assets visit other ports in Gujarat regularly.
In order to accord greater focus to the coastal and maritime security in the North Arabian Sea, the Navy now has plans to base ships in the ports of Gujarat, besides augmenting air assets at Naval Air Enclave, Porbandar.
"To ensure the security of maritime traffic plying through the Deep water Channel (DWC), off Okha, and Gulf of Kutch against threats from enemy submarines and mines, we are in the process of acquiring Shallow-Water ASW Craft and Mine Counter Measure vessels," the official added.