With its force levels set to increase by at least 15 per cent over the next five years, the Indian Navy is to focus on developing its operational and technical infrastructure, apart from manpower growth.
"The navy continues to maintain focus on development of operational and technical infrastructure, as the force levels increase," Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told his commanders at the concluding session of their five-day biannual commanders conference here Friday.
"Discussions during the conference, lasting over three days, focused on a range of issues relevant to the navy's preparedness and plans to develop a definitive road map for the future. The plans for the navy's growing role in the Indian Ocean region were also discussed during the conference," a press release said.
The existing manpower 50,000 men and 8,000 officers is expected to increase by at least 15 percent to help operate the planned warship and other platform acquisitions.
The navy already has around 40 warships and battle vessels on order with both Indian and foreign shipyards, including an indigenous aircraft carrier, Kolkata class destroyers, Shivalik class frigates, Corvettes and Scorpene submarines, that will be inducted in the next five years.
These apart, the navy's infrastructure too will increase with opening of a major naval base at Karwar on the West coast, new forward naval bases, operational turnaround bases and naval air enclaves at Tuticorin, Kamarta, Diglipur, Campbell Bay, Paradip and other coastal towns of the mainland and island territories of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep.
"The primary challenge confronting the navy was to balance its resources and building human capital and a requisite strategy so as to be responsive to the full spectrum of operations," Verma said at the conference.
"The aviation arm of the navy is set to grow in the years ahead," he said, noting that the induction of the 16 MiG-29K naval combat aircraft for INS Vikramaditya (erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier) from Russia had already started and the first flight of American major Boeing's P8I maritime patrol aircraft, eight of which were bought in 2009, taking place in September this year.
The P8I is "on schedule" for its induction in 2013, Admiral Verma added.
The naval chief said that progress had been made in the last few months in the induction of ships with contracts for five offshore patrol vessels, two cadet training ships, eight amphibious landing craft and fast interceptor craft being concluded.
He also highlighted the progress made in various plans and programmes for the modernisation of the navy and the initiatives and new schemes introduced for the promotion and welfare of sailors and their families.
The navy has been performing its traditional tasks and missions entrusted, which include overseas deployments, intra-navy exercises, bilateral exercises with friendly foreign countries and presence-cum-surveillance missions in the Indian Ocean region, with a view to discharge its role as the net security provider in the maritime domain in its area of operations.