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PM's 'Day Out' with the Navy tomorrow

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 4: After President A P J Abdul Kalam's underwater voyage in a submarine last February, it is now the turn of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to don the sailor's cap and spend time with the Navy -- a night aboard the country's sole aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

The PM's 'Day at Sea' will be tomorrow off the Goa coast -- accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and others.

The Prime Minister, while on board INS Viraat, will witness the entire spectrum of combat operations ranging from submarine warfare and missile firing to the breath-taking sight of Sea Harrier jump- jets landing on the carrier deck.

Embarking INS Viraat off Goa tomorrow, the PM will also witness night operations before disembarking the next day, according to officials here.

On display for the PM, as he cruises towards Mumbai on INS Viraat, will be Delhi-class destroyers, Brahmaputra- and Godavari- class missile frigates and the new Talwar-class stealth frigates.

Since he assumed office in May 2004, Dr Singh has had no ''close encounter'' with the Navy so far. He has visited Army formations at the Siachen Glacier and the IAF base at Gwalior, home to the Mirage-2000 squadrons -- but these were brief in nature.

The PM's Naval interface will be more prolonged. His day-at-sea had been planned three times since October but failed to materialise first following his wrist surgery, then due to the serial bomb- blasts in Delhi, and finally the visits of the French and US Presidents.

The Navy will use this week's opportunity to acquaint the PM with its ''three- dimensional'' combat prowess and how it can be used even more to further the country's political and geo-strategic objectives.

Significantly, the Navy is already engaged in building bridges of friendship as also project power in the entire Indian Ocean Region with its Chief Admiral Arun Prakash firm in his belief that India's resurgence as an economic power depends to a large extent on peace being maintained in the IOR.


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