Fifty percent of selected women Agniveers will join Western Naval Command: FOC Western Naval Command

Vice Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command on Saturday said fifty per cent of women Agniveers will be joining Western Naval Command in Mumbai. The flag officer was addressing the media at the Navy Day annual press conference of navy week onboard the Indian Navy’s latest stealth-guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam.

A total of 3,500 applicants were selected to join the Navy out of which 3,474 sailors have already joined. “There will be a medical test whoever will clear will continue in the service. We have a plan ready when they come for their commissioning,” said the FOC and added the Navy has always been gender neutral and women have been inducted in the commanding roles in all cadres equally. “Nine women officers have got permanent commission this year and 40 women officers got permanent commission in December last year. We treat women officers at the same level. We have 29 branches and all have women officers,” added Vice Admiral Singh.

Talking about the first batch of women cadets at NDA, the Vice Admiral said that three out of 18 female cadets will be joining the Navy. “All the women cadets will get permanent commission and three will be joining the Navy,” he added.

Slums are all over the place

Talking about the security measure taken by the Western Naval Command to deploy more naval helicopters at INS Shikra where there’s a large tract of naval land encroached upon by slum dwellers. So far the state government failed to act. “We have not got any acceptance at WNC. Before the Navy decided to induct any asset there was a long-term maritime infrastructure perspective. We are creating infrastructure at INS Shikra to accommodate helicopters. Security is a concern and there’s no doubt about it. There have been discussions with the Chief Minister about the issues and we have been assured to do something about this. Population count has already been done and the biometric process is yet to be done. We have told the state government that we have to raise the boundary wall as the other side of the people should be lower from the boundary wall. Though, every time we build a wall, they build one floor above us,” said the FOC.

Budgetary issues in the Navy

When asked about budgetary constraints in the Navy across boards, the FOC said there are no budget challenges but the government has a process for the clearances. “The Navy has traditionally believed that we are not in the hindrance of growth and we are partners in the country’s growth, our job is to bring prosperity. The Navy’s maritime mindset is about wealth creation. Towards that, we engage with the state government. We have tried to get into meetings to convey whatever our aches and pains are to get them addressed by the state government and I must say we have made progress, and there’s a long way to go. There’s positivity on both sides to solve the issues. I don’t think I have had any concern with the budget but the government has a process that we have to go through,” said the Vice Admiral.

Disaster management

With the concerns over coastal security and disaster management at the Western Naval Command, the FOC informed that there are SOPs for disaster management and adequate exercises have been done to meet the situations head-on. “We do many exercises and there is an immense contribution by the Navy in every situation at sea, which can’t happen without practice. We deploy assets anywhere when there is a challenge. We have assets on standby every time. We are prepared and it takes a finite amount of time and resources but we are part of the growth. Depending on each scenario we exercise on a monthly basis. We want to re-learn and improve. We are conscious,” said the FOC.

The Indian Navy celebrates Navy Day on 04 Dec every year, the date on which during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict, naval ships, armed to the teeth, stealthily manoeuvred off Karachi, and unleashed a lethal missile attack that left the port ablaze and destroyed several enemy warships.

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