Need to construct additional bases in Andamans, Laskshadweep: Antony

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday called upon the top brass of Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard to ensure timely implementation of measures envisaged under Phase-II of Coastal Security Plan and said construction of additional bases was necessary in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Laskshadweep to extend the country’s operational reach.

Addressing the Naval Commanders’ Conference here, Antony said the National Command Control, Communication and Intelligence (3CI) Network Project will become operational later this year.

According to an official release, the conference was held for the first time through video conferencing.

The Coastal Security Scheme Phase-II is being implemented since April 2011 for five years. It has provision of creating 131 Marine Police Stations and 60 jetties equipped with 225 boats, 131 four wheelers and 242 two wheelers.

Referring to the need for strengthening Navy’s maritime support infrastructure, especially in the islands, Antony said that construction of additional bases and naval air stations was necessary in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep to further extend the country’s operational reach.

Referring to recent incidents with a bearing on information security, Antony said physical security of bases, dockyards, ships, submarines, aircraft and other assets cannot be ignored at any cost.

Noting that human resources were the single most crucial component for any organisation, he said top priority must be accorded to providing training and improving the service conditions and habitat of personnel.

Referring to some incidents of inappropriate behaviour, he urged the commanders to take the sternest possible action against those who tarnish the image and prestige of the armed forces whenever such an incident come to their notice.

He complimented the navy for its steps in checking piracy in the Gulf of Aden and ‘ensuring that the menace does not spread towards our waters’.

He also complimented the navy for its efforts towards indigenisation of defence production.

Antony said 46 of the 48 naval platforms currently under construction are being built in India.

‘Indigenisation of equipment, especially weapons and sensors, in association with DRDO through the Buy and Make (Indian) route is an initiative that needs to be carried forward strongly and replicated in other spheres,’ he said.

Antony said there were some operational constraints regarding conventional submarines, ship-borne helicopters and ‘mine counter-measure vessels.’

He said funds will never be a constraint for capital acquisition, adding these should be spent in the most judicious manner to achieve national goals.

Antony congratulated Lt. Cdr. Abhilash Tomy for successfully completing a non-stop solo circumnavigation on the ‘Mhadei’ sailing vessel. ‘Such expeditions bear testimony to the adventurous spirit of navy personnel to face the elements of nature on the high seas,’ the minister added.

The release said that the conference was held by ‘Telepresence’ between New Delhi and the three naval commands for the first time.

It said Indian Navy had become the first service to conduct a conference of such magnitude through video-conferencing.

‘The site at Naval Headquarters, New Delhi was linked seamlessly with the command headquarters at Mumbai, Vizag and Kochi using a secure video and data link,’ the release said.

The Indian Navy chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, said that induction of ships and submarines would be primarily indigenous in the coming years and naval aviation was also poised for major growth.

He emphasised the importance of human resource development and information technology in building naval capability and synergy amongst various agencies in maintaining optimal maritime security.

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