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The Indian Navy (IN; IAST: Bhāratīya Nau Senā) is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India serves as Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy.[4] The Chief of Naval Staff, usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the navy. The Indian Navy is the fifth largest in the world.[5] It played an important role in India's victory in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.[6]

Indian Navy
भारतीय नौसेना
Bhāratīya Nau Senā
Indian Navy logo.png
Indian Navy crest
Active 1612 - present
Country India
Type Navy
Size 67,109 active personnel[1]
295 ships & 251 aircraft
Part of Indian Armed Forces,(Ministry of Defence, Government of India)
Headquarters New Delhi, India
Motto(s) शं नो वरुणः (Sanskrit)
IAST: Shaṃ No Varuna
(May the Lord of the Water be auspicious unto us)
Colours Navy Blue, White         
March Jai Bharati
Fleet 1 aircraft carriers
1 amphibious transport dock
8 landing ship tanks
11 destroyers
14 frigates
23 corvettes
4 mine countermeasure vessels
15 submarines
29 patrol vessels
4 replenishment oilers
Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Sunil Lanba, AVSM, SM, ADC[2]
Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, AVSM[3]
Admiral S. M. Nanda
Naval Ensign Naval Ensign of India.svg
Naval Jack Flag of India.svg
Aircraft flown
Fighter Mikoyan MiG-29K
Patrol Boeing P-8 Poseidon Ilyushin Il-38, Tupolev Tu-142
Reconnaissance IAI Heron, IAI Searcher Mk II
Trainer BAE Hawk, HAL HJT-16

The Indian Navy can trace its lineage back to the East India Company's Marine which was founded in 1612 to protect British merchant shipping in the region. In 1793 the East India Company established its rule over eastern part of the Indian subcontinent i.e. Bengal, but it was not until 1830 that the colonial navy became known as Her Majesty's Indian Navy. In 1858, East India Company rule gave way to the British Raj which lasted until India became independent in 1947. When India became a republic in 1950, the Royal Indian Navy as it had been named since 1934 was renamed to Indian Navy. The 17th-century Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is considered as the 'Father of the Indian Navy'.[7][8][9]

The primary objective of the navy is to secure the nation's maritime borders; India also uses its navy to enhance its international relations through joint exercises, port visits and humanitarian missions, including disaster relief. In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone rapid modernisation to replace its ageing equipment currently in service, this is often seen as part of "India's drive" to develop blue-water capabilities and enhance its position in the Indian Ocean region.[10][11]

As of 2017, the Indian Navy has a strength of 67,109 personnel[12] and a large operational fleet consisting of one aircraft carrier, one amphibious transport dock, eight landing ship tanks, 11 destroyers, 14 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, one ballistic missile submarine, 13 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 23 corvettes, four mine countermeasure vessels, 29 patrol vessels, four fleet tankers and various other auxiliary vessels.



Early maritime historyEdit

The maritime history of India dates back to 6,000 years with the birth of art of the navigation and navigating during the Indus Valley Civilisation.[13] A Kutch mariner's log book from 19th century recorded that the first tidal dock India has been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Indus Valley Civilisation, near the present day harbour of Mangrol on the Gujarat coast. The Rig Veda, credits Varuna, the Hindu god of water and the celestial ocean,[14] with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes the use of ships having hundred oars in the naval expeditions by Indians. There area also references to the side wings of a ship called Plava, which stabilizes the vessel during storms. Plava is considered to be the precursor of modern-day stabilizers.[15] The first use of mariner's compass, called as Matsya Yantra, was recorded in 4 and 5 AD.[16]

Chola territories during Rajendra Chola I, c. 1030

Alexander the Great during his conquest over India, built a harbour at Patala. His army retreated to Mesopotamia on the ships built at Sindh. In the later of his conquest, records show that the Emperor of Maurya Empire, Chandragupta Maurya, as a part of war office, established an Admiralty Division under the Superintendent of Ships. Many historians from ancient India recorded the Indian trade relations with many countries, and even with countries as far as Java and Sumatra. There were also references to the trade routes of countries in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. India also had trade relations with the Greeks and the Romans. At one instance Roman historian Gaius Plinius Secundus mentioned of Indian traders carrying away large masses of gold and silver from Rome, in payment for skins, precious stones, clothes, indigo, sandalwood, herbs, perfumes, spices etc.[15]

During 5–10 AD, the Kalinga and the Vijayanagara Empires conquered Western Java, Sumatra and Malaya. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands served as an important halt point for trade ships en route to these nations and as well as China. During 844–848 AD the daily revenue from these nations was expected to be around 200 maunds (8 tonnes (7.9 long tons; 8.8 short tons)) of gold. During 984–1042 AD, under the reign of Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I and Kulothunga Chola I, the naval expedition by Chola dynasty captured lands of Burma, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, and Malaya, and simultaneously repressing pirate activities by Sumatran warlords.[15][17]

Marco Polo's remark on Indian ships (1292 AD)

... built of fir timber, having a sheath of boards laid over the planking in every part, caulked with oakum and fastened with iron nails. The bottoms were smeared with a preparation of quicklime and hemp, pounded together and mixed with oil from a certain tree which is a better material than pith


During 14th and 15th centuries, the Indian shipbuilding skills and the maritime ability excelled well that ships with a capacity to carry over hundred men, ships built in compartment pattern, so that even if one part was damaged, the other parts would remain safe etc. were observed. These features of a ships were developed by Indians even before the Europeans were aware of the idea.[15]

However, by the end of thirteenth century Indian naval power started to decline, and it reached it low by the time Portugese entered India. Soon after they set foot in India, the Portuguese started to hunt down all Asian vessels not permitting their trade. Amidst this, in 1529, a naval war at Bombay Harbour resulted in the surrender of Thana, Karanja, and Bandora. By 1534, the Portuguese took complete control over the Bombay Harbour. The Zamorin of Calicut challenged the Portuguese trade when Vasco da Gama refused to pay the customs levy as per the trade agreement. This resulted in two major naval wars, the first one—Battle of Cochin, was fought in 1504, and the second engagement happened four years later off Diu. Both these wars, exposed the weakness of Indian maritime power and simultaneously helped the Portuguese to gain mastery over the Indian waters.[15]

In the later seventeenth century Indian naval power observed remarkable revival. The alliance of the Moghuls and the Sidis of Janjira was marked as a major power on the west coast. On the southern front, the 1st Sovereign of the Maratha Empire, Shivaji Bhonsle, started creating his own fleet. His fleet was commanded by notable admirals like Sidhoji Gujar and Kanhoji Angre. The Maratha Navy under the leadership of Angre kept the English, Dutch and Portuguese away from the Konkan coast. However, the Marathas witnessed remarkable decline in their naval capabilities following the death of Angre in 1729.[15]

1612 origins to independenceEdit

Indian Navy
शं नो वरुणः
"May the Lord of the Water

be auspicious unto us"

New Delhi
History and traditions
History of the Indian Navy
Current Indian Navy ships
History of Indian Navy ships
Indian Navy bases
Indian Naval Deployments
Chief of the Naval Staff
Naval ranks and insignia
MARCOS commandos
HMIS Bombay of Royal Indian Navy in Sydney Harbour during World War II

The traces of the Indian Navy were dated to 1612, when an English vessel under the command of Captain Best encountered with the Portuguese. Although the Portuguese were defeated, this incident along with the trouble caused by the pirates to the merchant vessels, forced the British to maintain fleet near Surat, Gujarat. The Honourable East India Company's Marine was formed under English East India Company, and the first squadron of fighting ships reached the Gujarat coast on 5 September 1612. Their objective was to protect Britishers merchant shipping off the Gulf of Cambay and up the Narmada and Tapti rivers. As British continued to expand their rule over different parts of India, so did the responsibility of Company's Marine.[18]

Over time, the British predominantly operated from Bombay, and in 1686, the Honourable East India Company's Marine was renamed the Bombay Marine. Unlike its predecessor the Bombay Marine was also engaged with Dutch, French, Marathas and Sidis. It was also involved in the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824. In 1830, the force was again Her Majesty's Indian Navy, while parts of India was under British rule. The Navy saw action in the First Opium War of 1840 and in the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852. Due to some unrecorded reasons, the name was reverted to the Bombay Marine from 1863 to 1877, after which it was named Her Majesty's Indian Marine. At that time, the Marine operated in two divisions—the Eastern Division at Calcutta under the Superintendent of Bay of Bengal, and the Western Division at Bombay Superintendent of Arabian Sea.[18]

In 1892 the Marine was rechristened the Royal Indian Marine, and by the end of nineteenth century it operated over fifty ships. The Marine participated in World War I with a fleet of patrol vessels, troop carriers and minesweepers. In 1928, Sub Lieutenant D. N. Mukherji was the first Indian to be granted commission as an engineer officer. In 1934, the Marine was renamed the Royal Indian Navy (RIN), and was presented the King's colours in recognition of its services to the British Crown.[18]

During the early stages of World War II, the tiny Royal Indian Navy consisted of five sloops, one survey vessel, one depot ship, one patrol vessel and numerous assorted small craft; personnel strength was at only 114 officers and 1,732 sailors.[19] The onset of war led to an expansion in numbers of vessels and personnel. By June 1940, the navy had doubled its number in terms of both personnel and material, and expanded nearly six times of its pre-war strength by 1942.[20] The navy was actively involved in operations during the war around the world and was heavily involved in operations around the Indian Ocean, including convoy escorts, mine-sweeping, supply, as well as supporting amphibious assaults.[18]

When hostilities ceased in August 1945, the Royal Indian Navy had expanded to a personnel strength of over 25,000 officers and sailors. Its fleet comprised seven sloops, four frigates, four corvettes, fourteen minesweepers, sixteen trawlers, two depot ships, thirty auxiliary vessels, one hundred and fifty landing craft, two hundred harbour craft and several offensive and defensive motor launches.[21] During World War II the Navy suffered two hundred and seventy five casualties—twenty seven officers, two warrant officers and 123 ratings killed in action, two ratings missing in action and a further 14 officers, two warrant officers and 123 ratings wounded.[22] For their role in the war, the officers and ratings of the Navy received the following honours and decorations—a KBE (Mil.), a knighthood, a CB (Mil.), 10 CIEs, two DSOs, a CBE, 15 DSCs, an OBE, 28 DSMs, eight OBIs, two IOMs, 16 BEMs, 10 Indian Defence Service Medals, a Royal Humane Society Medal, 105 mentions in dispatches and 118 assorted commendations.[23]

Immediately after the war, the navy underwent a rapid, large-scale demobilisation of vessels and personnel. In 1946, Indian sailors started the Royal Indian Navy mutiny, a strike influenced by post-Second World War political unrest in India, and sparked by instances of discrimination against Indian officers and sailors, as well as the ongoing trials of ex-Indian National Army soldiers and officers. A total of 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors were involved in the strike, which spread over much of India. After the strike began, the sailors received encouragement and support from Communist Party in India; unrest spread from the naval ships, and led to a student and worker hartals in Bombay. The strike ultimately failed as the sailors did not receive substantial support from either the Indian Army, or political leaders in Congress or the Muslim League.[24]

After independence, the Indian share of the Navy consisted of 32 vessels along with 11,000 personnel. Rear Admiral I. T. S. Hall, CIE, headed the Navy as its first Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) after independence.[18]

Independence to the end of the 20th centuryEdit

After the independence of India on 15 August 1947 and the partition, the RIN's depleted fleet of ships and remaining personnel were divided between the newly independent Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan. When India became a republic on 26 January 1950, the Royal prefix was dropped and the name Indian Navy was officially adopted. The prefix for naval vessels was changed to Indian Naval Ship (INS).[18]

During the early years following independence, the navy still had many British officers who continued to serve with the Indian Navy. The first C-in-C of the Navy was Admiral Sir Edward Parry, KCB, who handed over to Admiral Sir Charles Thomas Mark Pizey, KBE, CB, DSO, in 1951. Admiral Pizey also became the first Chief of the Naval Staff in 1955, and was succeeded by Vice Admiral Sir Stephen Hope Carlill, CB, DSO,[18] before handing over the command to Vice Admiral Ram Dass Katari, as the first Indian to assume office as the Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy on 22 April 1958.[25] The first engagement in action of the Indian Navy was against the Portuguese Navy during the liberation of Goa in 1961. Operation Vijay followed years of escalating tension due to Portuguese refusal to relinquish its colonies in India. On 21 November 1961, Portuguese troops fired on the passenger liner Sabarmati near Anjadip Island, killing one person and injuring another. During Operation Vijay, the Indian Navy supported troop landings and provided fire support. The cruiser INS Delhi sank one Portuguese patrol boat,[26] while frigates INS Betwa and INS Beas destroyed the Portuguese frigate NRP Afonso de Albuquerque.[27] The 1962 Sino-Indian War was largely fought over the Himalayas and the Navy had only a defensive role in the war.[28]

INS Kursura, an Indian submarine which played a vital role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war

Indian Naval activity in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 largely involved coastal patrols. During the war, the Pakistani Navy attacked the Indian coastal city of Dwarka, although there were no military resources in the area. While this attack was insignificant,[29] India deployed naval resources to patrol the coast and deter further bombardment. Following these wars in the 1960s, India resolved to strengthen the profile and capabilities of its Armed Forces.

Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The ship played a crucial role in enforcing the naval blockade on East Pakistan and ensuring India's victory during the war.

The dramatic change in the Indian Navy's capabilities and stance was emphatically demonstrated during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Under the command of Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda, the navy successfully enforced a naval blockade of West and East Pakistan.[6]

Pakistan's lone long-range submarine PNS Ghazi was sunk following an attack by the destroyer INS Rajput off the coast of Visakhapatnam around midnight of 3–4 December 1971.[30][31][32][33][34] On 4 December, the Indian Navy successfully executed Operation Trident, a devastating attack on the Pakistan Naval Headquarters of Karachi that sank a minesweeper, a destroyer and an ammunition supply ship. The attack also irreparably damaged another destroyer and oil storage tanks at the Karachi port. To commemorate this, 4 December is celebrated as the Navy Day. This was followed by Operation Python on 8 December 1971, further deprecating the Pakistan Navy's capabilities. Indian frigate INS Khukri, commanded by Captain M. N. Mulla was sunk by PNS Hangor, while INS Kirpan was damaged on the west coast. In the Bay of Bengal, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was deployed to successfully enforce the naval blockade on East Pakistan. Sea Hawk and the Alizé aircraft from INS Vikrant sank numerous gunboats and Pakistani merchant marine ships.[35] To demonstrate its solidarity as an ally of Pakistan, the United States sent Task Force 74 centred around the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal. In retaliation, Soviet Navy submarines trailed the American task force, which moved away from the Indian Ocean towards Southeast Asia to avert a confrontation.[36] In the end, the Indian naval blockade of Pakistan choked off the supply of reinforcements to the Pakistani forces,[37] which proved to be decisive in the overwhelming defeat of Pakistan.[38][39]

Since playing a decisive role in the victory, the navy has been a deterrent force maintaining peace for India in a region of turmoil. In 1983, the Indian Navy planned for Operation Lal Dora to support the government of Mauritius against a feared coup.[40] In 1986, in Operation Flowers are Blooming, the Indian Navy averted an attempted coup in the Seychelles.[41] In 1988, India launched Operation Cactus, to successfully thwart a coup d'état by PLOTE in the Maldives.[42] Naval maritime reconnaissance aircraft detected the ship hijacked by PLOTE rebels. INS Godavari and Indian marine commandos recaptured the ship and arrested the rebels.[43] During the 1999 Kargil War, the Western and Eastern fleets were deployed in the Northern Arabian Sea, as a part of Operation Talwar.[44] They safeguarded India's maritime assets from a potential Pakistani naval attack, as also deterred Pakistan from attempting to block India's sea-trade routes.[45] The Indian Navy's aviators flew sorties and marine commandos fought alongside Indian Army personnel in the Himalayas.[46][47]

21st century onwardsEdit

Indian Navy flotilla including aircraft carrier INS Viraat escorting INS Vikramaditya on its way home in 2014
Guard of honour at the INA, 2012.

In the 21st century, the Indian Navy has played an important role in maintaining peace for India on the maritime front, in spite of the state of foment in its neighbourhood.[48] It has been deployed for humanitarian relief in times of natural disasters and crises across the globe, as well as to keep India's maritime trade routes free and open.

The Indian Navy was a part of the joint forces exercises, Operation Parakram, during the 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff. More than a dozen warships were deployed to the northern Arabian Sea.[49] In 2001, the Indian Navy took over operations to secure the Strait of Malacca, to relieve US Navy resources for Operation Enduring Freedom.[50]

The navy plays an important role in providing humanitarian relief in times of natural disasters, including floods, cyclones and tsunamis. In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Indian Navy launched massive disaster relief operations to help affected Indian states as well as Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Over 27 ships, dozens of helicopters, at least six fixed-wing aircraft and over 5000 personnel of the navy were deployed in relief operations.[51] These included Operation Madad in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Operation Sea Waves in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Operation Castor in Maldives, Operation Rainbow in Sri Lanka and Operation Gambhir in Indonesia.[52] This was one of the largest and fastest force mobilisations that the Indian Navy has undertaken. Indian naval rescue vessels and teams reached neighbouring countries less than 12 hours from the time that the tsunami hit.[51][53] Lessons from the response led to decision to enhance amphibious force capabilities, including the acquisition of landing platform docks such as INS Jalashwa, as well as smaller amphibious vessels.[54][55]

From top to bottom: INS Ranjit, INS Jyoti and INS Mysore

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Indian Navy launched Operation Sukoon to evacuate 2,286 Indian nationals and expatriates, besides 436 Sri Lankan and 69 Nepali citizens, from war-torn Lebanon.[56][57] In 2006, Indian naval doctors served for 102 days on board USNS Mercy to conduct medical camps in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and East Timor.[58] In 2007, Indian Navy supported relief operations for the survivors of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh.[59] In 2008, Indian Naval vessels were the first to launch international relief operations for victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.[60][61] In 2011, the Indian Navy launched Operation Safe Homecoming and rescued Indian nationals from war torn Libya. During the 2015 crisis in Yemen, the Indian Navy was part of Operation Raahat and rescued 3074 individuals out of which 1291 were foreign nationals.[62] In October 1999, a coordinated effort by the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard led to the rescue of pirated Japanese cargo ship, MV Alondra Rainbow.[63]

Sea King helicopters operating aboard INS Viraat

In 2008, the navy deployed INS Tabar and INS Mysore into the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy in Somalia.[64] Tabar prevented numerous piracy attempts,[65][66][67] and escorted hundreds of ships safely through the pirate-infested waters.[68][69][70] The navy also undertook anti-piracy patrols near the Seychelles, upon that country's request.[71][72][73] In 2011, the navy launched Operation Island Watch to deter piracy attempts by Somali pirates off the Lakshadweep archipelago. This operation has had numerous successes in preventing pirate attacks.[74][75][76][77] On 14 August 2013, the submarine INS Sindhurakshak sank in Bombay Dockyard due to explosions aboard.[78] On 16 November 2013, the then Defence Minister A.K. Antony commissioned a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in Severodvinsk, Russia. On 15 April 2016, a Poseidon-8I long-range patrol aircraft managed to thwart a piracy attack on the high seas by flying over MV Sezai Selaha, a merchant vessel, which was being targeted by a pirate mother ship and two skiffs around 800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi) from Mumbai.[79]

Current roleEdit

Currently the principal roles of Indian Navy are:[80]

  • In conjunction with other Armed Forces of the union, act to deter or defeat any threats or aggression against the territory, people or maritime interests of India, both in war and peace;
  • Project influence in India's maritime area of interest, to further the nation's political, economic and security objectives;
  • In co-operation with the Indian Coast Guard, ensure good order and stability in India's maritime zones of responsibility.
  • Provide maritime assistance (including disaster relief) in India's maritime neighbourhood.

Command and organisationEdit


Some of the uniforms of Indian Navy

The Commander of the Navy is the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), who holds the rank of Admiral.[81] While the provision for the rank of Admiral of the Fleet exists, it is primarily intended for major wartime use and honour.[citation needed] No officer of the Indian Navy has yet been conferred this rank. The CNS is assisted in his role as commander of the Navy by the Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS), a vice-admiral; the CNS also heads the Integrated Headquarters (IHQ) of the Ministry of Defence (Navy), based in New Delhi.The Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (DCNS), a vice-admiral, is the assistant head of the IHQ, and is a Principal Staff Officer, along with the Chief of Personnel (COP) and the Chief of Materiel (COM), both of whom are also vice-admirals. [82] The Director General Medical Services (Navy) is a Surgeon Vice-Admiral.[83]

The Indian Navy operates three Commands.[84] Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the rank of Vice Admiral. The Eastern and Western Commands each have a Fleet commanded by a rear admiral, and each also have a Commodore commanding submarines. The Southern Naval Command is home to the Flag Officer Sea Training.

Additionally, the Andaman and Nicobar Command is a unified Indian Navy, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Coast Guard theater command[85] based at the capital, Port Blair. Commander in Chief Andaman and Nicobar (CINCAN) receives staff support from, and reports directly to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) in New Delhi. The Command was set up in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2001.[86]

At Integrated Headquarters-Ministry of Defence (Navy) level[87]
Post Current Holder
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC[88]
Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, AVSM[89]
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, AVSM, VSM [90]
Chief of Personnel Vice Admiral A K Chawla, AVSM, VSM, NM[91]
Chief of Materiel Vice Admiral G S Pabby, AVSM, VSM[92]
Director General Medical Services Surgeon Vice Admiral A A Pawar, VSM[93][94]
Director General Naval Design Rear Admiral Anil Kumar Saxena, NM [95]
Director General Naval Operations Vice Admiral S N Ghormade[96]
Director General Naval Projects (DGNP) Vice Admiral S R Sharma, AVSM, VSM[97][98]
Controller of Warship Production & Acquisitions Vice Admiral Dilip M Deshpande, AVSM, VSM[99][100]
Controller of Logistics Vice Admiral Sunil Anand, NM[101]
Chief Hydrographer Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar, NM[102]
Assistant Chief of Personnel Rear Admiral Suraj Berry[103]
Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air Material) Rear Admiral V M Doss, VSM[104]
Flag Officer Submarines (FOSM) Rear Admiral Vennam Srinivas, NM[105]
At operational command level[87]
Commands HQ Location Current FOC-in-C
Western Naval Command Mumbai Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, AVSM, SM[106]
Eastern Naval Command Visakhapatnam Vice Admiral HCS Bisht, VSM[107]
Southern Naval Command Kochi Vice Admiral AR Karve, AVSM[108]


Indian Navy has its major operational bases in Visakhapatnam, Mumbai, Kochi and Chennai. In 2005, the Indian Navy commissioned INS Kadamba at Karwar, 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Goa. The base is the first to be controlled exclusively by the Navy without sharing port facilities with commercial shipping. Built under phase I of the Project Seabird, it is the largest naval base in the region.[109] The Indian Navy also has berthing rights in Oman and Vietnam.[110] The navy operates INS Kattabomman, a VLF and ELF transmission facility at Vijayanarayanapuram near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu.[111]

The Navy operates a monitoring station, fitted with radars and surveillance gear to intercept maritime communication, in Madagascar. It also plans to build a further 32 radar stations in Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives and Sri Lanka.[112] According to Intelligence Online published by France-based global intelligence gathering organisation, Indigo Publications, the Navy is believed to be operating a listening post in Ras al-Hadd, Oman. The post is located directly across from Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan, separated by approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) of the Arabian Sea.[113]

INS Vajrakosh, commissioned on 9 September 2015, is the latest establishment of the Indian Navy at Karwar, Karnataka which will serve as special storage facility for specialised armaments and missiles. INS Vajrakosh will have all the required infrastructure and will be manned by specialists to provide specialised servicing facilities for these sophisticated missiles and ammunition.[114]


Officer training is conducted at Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala, on the coast of Kerala. Established in 2009, it is the largest naval academy in Asia.[115]

Rank structureEdit

As of 2016, the Indian Navy has a sanctioned strength of 11,384 officers and 67,639 enlisted personnel. There was a shortage of 1105 officers with 10,279 officers serving and a shortage 10,809 enlisted personnel with 56,830 serving. This is inclusive of 7,000 Naval Aviation, 2,000 Marine commandos and 1,000 Sagar Prahari Bal soldiers.[12][116]

OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and Student Officer
Admiral of
the Fleet
Admiral2 Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore Captain Commander Lieutenant
Lieutenant Sublieutenant

Naval Air ArmEdit

Indian Navy P-8I Neptune aircraft deployed in Seychelles
A MiG-29K of Navy's aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya

The naval air-arm is an important component of the Indian Navy. The air arm consists of MiG-29K jets that operate from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and helicopters operating from Vikramaditya and INS Viraat. The Kamov-31 operates from the aircraft carriers and provides the airborne early warning cover for the fleet. In the anti-submarine role the Sea King, Ka-28 and the domestic built HAL Dhruv are used. The MARCOS also use Sea King and HAL Dhruv helicopters while conducting operations. Maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations are carried out by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon and the Ilyushin 38. The UAV arm consists of the IAI Heron and Searcher-IIs that are operated from both surface ships and shore establishments for surveillance missions.

The Indian Navy also maintains a four-aircraft aerobatic display team, the Sagar Pawan. The Sagar Pawan team will be replacing their present Kiran HJT-16 aircraft with the newly developed HJT-36 aircraft.[117]

The southernmost naval air station, INS Bazz was formally opened on 31 July 2012 by the Indian Navy Chief at Cambell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With the commissioning of this station, the country acquired increased capability to keep vigil on the vital maritime channel of the Straits of Malacca.[118]


HAL Dhruv helicopter of the Indian Navy extracting Marine Commandos MARCOS on Navy day 2013 at Kochi

The Marine Commando Force (MCF), also known as MARCOS, is a special forces unit that was raised by the Indian Navy in 1987 for direct action, special reconnaissance, amphibious warfare and counter-terrorism. In 1988, the MARCOS successfully rescued several hostages, including Maldives' then-Minister of Tourism, aboard a ship hijacked by PLOTE mercenaries during Operation Cactus. The MARCOS are typically deployed to prevent infiltration through the Jhelum River and Wular Lake and are also involved in covert counter-terrorism operations in and around lakes and rivers in Jammu and Kashmir.[119][120]

During the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the MARCOS were also involved in the rescue mission of hostages captured by the terrorists in Taj Mahal Palace & Tower luxury hotel in Mumbai as part of a large terrorist attack in Mumbai metropolis in November 2008.[121]



INS Vikramaditya

The names of all in service ships (and Naval Bases) of the Indian Navy are prefixed with the letters INS, designating Indian Naval Ship or Indian Navy Station. The fleet of the Indian Navy is a mixture of domestic built and foreign vessels. The Indian Navy presently has one aircraft carrier in active service, INS Vikramaditya. INS Viraat was decommissioned on 6 March 2017.[122] In 2004, India bought the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov for the equivalent of US$974 million. It cost an additional US$1.326 billion to overhaul the vessel and refit it entirely with new electronic, weapon systems and sensors, bringing the total procurement cost to USD 2.3 billion. INS Vikramaditya sailed to India after her commissioning on 15 November 2013. It joined active service by December 2013.[123] The Indian Navy has an amphibious transport dock of the Austin class, re-christened as INS Jalashwa in Indian service. It also maintains a fleet of landing ship tanks. It is expected that four more amphibious transport docks will be constructed in the future.[124]

The navy currently operates three Kolkata, three Delhi and five Rajput-class guided-missile destroyers. The ships of the Rajput class will be replaced in the near future by the next-generation Visakhapatnam-class destroyers (Project 15B) which will feature a number of improvements.

In addition to destroyers, the navy operates several classes of frigates such as three Shivalik (Project 17 class) and six Talwar-class frigates. Seven additional Shivalik-class frigates (Project 17A class frigates) are on order.[125] The older Godavari-class frigates will systematically be replaced one by one as the new classes of frigates are brought into service over the next decade. The last remaining Nilgiri-class frigate was decommissioned on 27 June 2013.

Smaller littoral zone combatants in service are in the form of corvettes, of which the Indian Navy operates the Kamorta,Kora, Khukri, Veer and Abhay-class corvettes.

Replenishment tankers such as the Jyoti-class tanker, INS Aditya and the new Deepak-class fleet tanker- help improve the navy's endurance at sea. The Deepak-class tankers will be the mainstay of the replenishment fleet until the first half of the 21st century.[126]


INS Chakra, the nuclear attack submarine of the Indian Navy

The Indian Navy operates two types of conventional attack submarines; the Sindhughosh (Russian Kilo-class submarine design) and the Shishumar (German Type 209/1500 design) classes.

India also possesses a single Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine named INS Chakra. She is the result of a US$2 billion deal between India and Russia for the completion and lease of two Akula-class submarines to the Indian Navy.[127] Three hundred Indian Navy personnel were trained in Russia for the operation of these submarines. Negotiations are on with Russia for the lease of the second Akula-class submarine.[128] At the end of the lease, it has been agreed that India will have the option to purchase the submarines outright.[129]

Arihant, was launched on 26 July 2009 in Visakhapatnam (India). she was secretly commissioned into active service in August 2016.[130] The Navy plans to have six nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in service in the near future.[131] She is both the first boat of the Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and the first nuclear-powered submarine to be built in India.[132]

Weapon systemsEdit

Gun firing trials of INS Kochi[133]
Barak 8 missile fired from INS Kolkata

India has a number of foreign made cruise missile systems, including the Klub SS-N-27. It also has its own Nirbhay cruise missile systems under development. Another successful programme has been the adaptation of the Yakhont anti-ship missile system into the BrahMos by the NPO and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The BrahMos has been tailored to meet Indian needs and features a large proportion of India-designed components and technology, including its fire control systems, transporter erector launchers, and its onboard navigational attack systems. The successful test of Brahmos from INS Rajput provides Indian Navy with precision land attack capability.[134] India has also fitted its P-8I Neptune reconnaissance aircraft with all-weather, active-radar-homing, over-the-horizon AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes.[135] Indian warships' primary air-defence shield is provided by Barak 1 surface-to-air missile while an advanced version Barak 8 is in development in collaboration with Israel.[136] India's next-generation Scorpène-class submarines will be armed with Exocet anti-ship missile system. Among indigenous missiles, ship-launched version of Prithvi-II is called Dhanush, which has a range of 350 kilometres (220 mi) and can carry nuclear warheads.[137] The K-15 Sagarika (Oceanic) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which has a range of at least 700 km (some sources claim 1000 km) forms part of India's nuclear triad and is extensively tested to be integrated with the Arihant class of nuclear submarines. A longer range submarine launched ballistic missile called K-4 is under testing, to be followed by K-5 SLBM.

Electronic warfare and systems managementEdit

Sangraha is a joint electronic warfare programme of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Navy. The system comprises a family of electronic warfare suites, such as Ajanta and Ellora, for use on different naval platforms capable of intercepting, detecting, and classifying pulsed, carrier wave, pulse repetition frequency agile, frequency agile and chirp radars. The systems employ a modular approach facilitating deployment on various platforms like helicopters, vehicles, and small ships. Certain platforms, apart from ESM (electronic support measures), have ECM (electronic countermeasure) capabilities. Advanced technologies like multiple-beam phased array jammers are employed in the system for simultaneous handling of multiple threats.[138]

The Indian Navy also relies on information technology to face the challenges of the 21st century. The Indian Navy is implementing a new strategy to move from a platform centric force to a network-centric force by linking all shore-based installations and ships via high-speed data networks and satellites.[139][140] This will help in increased operational awareness. The network is referred to as the Navy Enterprise Wide Network (NEWN). The Indian Navy has also provided training to all its personnel in Information Technology (IT) at the Naval Institute of Computer Applications (NICA) located in Mumbai. Information technology is also used to provide better training, like the usage of simulators and for better management of the force.[141]

Information technology cadreEdit

With increasing cyber terrorism and attacks on its networks, the navy has created a separate cell for communications, space and network centric operations (CS&NCO) under an officer of the rank of Rear Admiral. The cell would operate and maintain the naval network and will respond to cyber attacks from hostile hackers. It will be manned by a special information technology cadre of the Indian Navy.[142]

Naval satelliteEdit

India's first exclusive defence satellite GSAT-7 was successfully launched by European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana in August 2013, giving a major push to the country's maritime security. The Navy is the user of the multi-band home-built communication spacecraft, which has been operational since September 2013. GSAT-7 was designed and developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and is expected to operate for seven years in its orbital slot at 74 degrees east, providing UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band relay capacity. Its Ku-band capacity is expected to provide high-density data transmission facility, both for voice and video. This satellite has been provided with additional power to communicate with smaller and mobile (not necessarily land-based) terminals. This dedicated satellite is expected to provide the Indian navy with an approximately 3,500- to 4,000-kilometer footprint over the Indian Ocean region, and over both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal region and enable real-time networking of all its operational assets in the water (and land). It also will help the navy to operate in a network-centric atmosphere.[143]


INS Mumbai with Indian Navy flag during International Fleet Review 2016

Fleet reviewsEdit

The President of India is entitled to inspect his/her fleet, as he/she is the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The first president's fleet review by India was hosted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 10 October 1953. President's reviews usually take place once in the President's term. In all, ten fleet reviews have taken place, including in February 2006, when former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam took the review.[144] The latest, on 20 December 2011, when President Pratibha Patil set sail in INS Subhadra to take the 10th Fleet Review.[145] The Indian Navy also conducted an International fleet review named Bridges of Friendship in February 2001 in Mumbai. Many ships of friendly Navies from all around the world participated, including two from the US Navy.[146] The International Fleet Review 2016 was held off Visakhapatnam coast in February 2016 where Indian Navy's focus was on improving diplomatic relations and military compatibility with other nations.

Naval exercisesEdit

Naval ships from 17 nations Indian Ocean Naval Symposium participated in Milan exercise 2014

India often conducts naval exercises with other friendly countries designed to increase naval interoperability and also to strengthen cooperative security relationship. Some such exercises take place annually like the Varuna with the French Navy, Konkan with the Royal Navy, Indra with Russian Navy, Malabar with the US Navy, Simbex[147] with the Republic of Singapore Navy and IBSAMAR[148] with the Brazil and South African navies.[149] The Indian Navy also conducted exercise with the People's Liberation Army Navy in 2003 and will send ships to the South China Sea to participate in the fleet review.[150] Apart from the Indian Ocean, India has steadily gained influence in the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, Indian Navy conducted naval exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and U.S Navy in the Pacific[151] and also signed an agreement with Japan in October 2008 for joint naval patrolling in the Asia-Pacific region.[152]

India has also held naval exercise with Vietnam,[153] Philippines and New Zealand.[154] In 2007, India and South Korea decided to conduct annual naval exercise[155] and India participated in the South Korean international fleet review.[156] In addition, Indian Navy will also be increasing naval co-operation with other allies, particularly with Germany[157] and Arab states of the Persian Gulf including Kuwait, Oman,[158] Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.[159][160] India held the first Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)[161] with an objective to provide a forum for all the littoral nations of the Indian Ocean to co-operate on mutually agreed areas for better security in the region.[162] The Indian Navy is increasingly used in international diplomacy.[163] Since 2000, the Indian naval ships have made port calls in Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, South Africa,[164] Kenya,[165] Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait[166] and other countries in 2005–2007.

INS Satpura in the U.S for RIMPAC 2016

The first Atlantic Ocean deployment of the Indian Navy happened in 2009. During this deployment, the Indian Naval fleet conducted exercises with the French, German, Russian and British Navies.[167]

In 2007, the TROPEX (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercises) was held during which Indian Navy experimented the doctrine of influencing a land and air battle to support the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.[168] Tropex 2010 was held, with the Western and Eastern fleets taking part along with elements from the airforce.[169]

In 2010, Indian naval warships were deployed in the Asia pacific region, and conducted courtesy calls at friendly ports.[170] Recently, Indian Navy carried out a Joint Naval exercise with Sri Lanka Navy codenamed SLINEX-II from 19 to 24 September 2011. The exercise was aimed at increasing the capabilities of the two nations in carrying out anti-piracy operations and exchanging professional knowledge.[171] Once in two years navies from the Indian Ocean region meet at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the event is named as Milan.[172] MILAN included a passage exercise in 2010.[173]


The Indian Navy expedition to the North Pole, 2008

The Indian Navy regularly conducts adventure expeditions. The sailing ship and training vessel INS Tarangini began circumnavigating the world on 23 January 2003, intending to foster good relations with various other nations; she returned to India in May of the following year after visiting 36 ports in 18 nations.[174] INS Tarangini returned to port, after a ten-month-long overseas voyage named Lokayan 07.[175] Lt. Cdr. M.S. Kohli led the Indian Navy's first successful expedition to Mount Everest in 1965; the Navy's ensign was again flown atop Everest on 19 May 2004 by a similar expedition. Another Navy team also successfully scaled Everest from the north face, the technically more challenging route.[176] The expedition was led by Cdr Satyabrata Dam, belonging to the elite submarine arm. Cdr. Dam is a mountaineer of international repute and has climbed many mountains including the Patagonias, the Alps among others. This team's record is unmatched by any other navy. The Navy was also the first to send a submariner to summit Everest.[177]

An Indian Navy team comprising 11 members successfully completed an expedition to the Arctic pole. To prepare, they first travelled to Iceland, where they attempted to summit a peak.[178] The team next flew to eastern Greenland; in the Kulusuk and Angmassalik areas, they used Inuit boats to navigate the region's ice-choked fjords. They crossed northward across the Arctic Circle, reaching seventy degrees North on skis. The team scaled an unnamed peak of height 11,000 feet (3,400 m) and named it ‘’Indian Peak’’.[179]

The Indian Naval ensign first flew in Antarctica in 1981.[180] The Indian Navy succeeded in Mission Dakshin Dhruv 2006 by traversing to the South Pole on skis. With this historic expedition, they have set the record for being the first military team to have successfully completed a ski traverse to the Geographic South Pole.[181] Also, three of the ten member team – the expedition leader – Cdr. Satyabrata Dam, leading medical assistants Rakesh Kumar and Vikas Kumar are now among the few people in the world to have visited the two poles and summited Mt. Everest.[182][183] Indian Navy became the first organisation to reach the poles and Mt. Everest.[184] Cdr. Dilip Donde completed the first solo circumnavigation by an Indian citizen on 22 May 2010.[185][186]

Future of the Indian NavyEdit

INS Vikrant under construction
The HAL Tejas Naval Prototype-1 takes-off from the Shore Based Test Facility at Goa

By the end of the 14th Plan (2019), the Indian Navy expects to have over 150 ships and close to 500 aircraft and helicopters. In addition to the existing mission of securing both sea flanks in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea, the navy would be able to respond to emergency situations far away from the main land. Marine assault capabilities will be beefed-up by setting up a new amphibious warfare facility at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.[187]

The Indian Navy has initiated Phase II expansion of INS Kadamba, the third largest naval base, near Karwar. Phase II will involve expansion of the berthing facilities to accommodate 40 more front-line warships, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, raise manpower to 300 officers and around 2,500 sailors, and build a naval air station with a 6,000-foot runway. This is to be followed by Phase IIA and IIB, at the end of which INS Kadamba will be able to base 50 front-line warships. The Indian Navy is also in the process of constructing a new naval base, INS Varsha, at Rambilli for its Arihant Class submarines.[188]

India plans to construct a pair of aircraft carriers, the first to be built by a South Asian country. The first, INS Vikrant, was launched in 2013 by Cochin Shipyard and undocked in June 2015. It is expected to be completed by 2017 and undergo extensive sea trials thereafter with commissioning planned for 2018.[189] Vikrant displaces 40,000 tonnes and will be capable of operating up to 40 aircraft, including 30 HAL Tejas and MiG-29K fighters.[190] The second ship, INS Vishal (formerly known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-II), will displace around 65,000 tonnes and is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy by 2025. With the future delivery of Vishal, the Navy's goal to have three aircraft carriers in service, with two fully operational carriers and the third in refit, will be achieved.[191]

As of November 2011, the Defence Acquisition Council launched the Indian Navy Multi-Role Support Vessel programme. The Indian Navy has subsequently sent out an international RFP for up to 4 large landing helicopter docks. The contenders are expected to tie up with local shipyards for construction of the ships.[192]

In addition to aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ships, the Indian Navy is acquiring numerous surface combatants such as; the Visakhapatnam-class destroyers, the Project 17A-class frigates, ASW shallow water corvettes, ASuW corvettes and MCM vessels. New submarine types include; the conventional Kalvari-class, Project 75I and the nuclear Arihant-class. New auxiliary ships include; five Replenishment Oilers, a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship and an Ocean Surveillance Ship.

In late January 2017, the Indian Navy released an international Request for Information (RFI) for 57 "Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters" (MRCBFs), asking for responses by mid-May. The envisaged roles include shipborne air defence, air-to-surface attack, buddy aerial refuelling, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, etc. The requirements are flexible, including single of multi-engines, short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) of catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR), or both. Armaments are to include a gun plus four beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles and two all-aspect air-to-air missiles. Other technical capabilities and inclusions are to be assessed. The main contest is between Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Dassault Rafale-M.[193][194]


Accidents in the Indian navy have been attributed to ageing ships in need of maintenance, delayed acquisitions by the Ministry of Defence, and human error.[195] However naval commentators also argue that as India's large navy of 160 ships clocks around 12,000 ship-days at sea every year, in varied waters and weather, some incidents are inevitable.[196][197] Captains of erring ships are dismissed from their command following an enquiry.[198][199] The accident on board INS Sindhuratna (S59) led to the resignation of the then Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral D K Joshi on 26 February 2014, who owned moral responsibility.[200] The navy is envisaging a new 'Safety Organisation' to improve safety of its warships, nuclear submarines and aircraft in view of its planned increase in fleet strength over the next decade.[201]

Indian Naval EnsignEdit

The Indian Navy from 1950 to 2001 used a modified version of the British Naval jack, with the Union flag replaced with the Indian Tricolor in the canton. In 2001, this flag was replaced with a white ensign bearing the Indian Navy crest, as the previous ensign was thought to reflect India's colonial past.[202] However complaints arose that the new ensign was indistinguishable as the blue of the naval crest easily merged with the sky and the ocean. Hence in 2004, the ensign was changed back to the St. George's cross design, with the addition of the emblem of India in the intersection of the cross. In 2014, the ensign as well as the naval crest was further modified to include the Devanagari script: सत्यमेव जयते (Satyameva Jayate) which means 'Truth Alone Triumphs' in Sanskrit.[203]

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