December 4: It’s an honour beyond compare to be fighting for the country and to be a part of the guard that protects one’s countrymen from harm. The Indian Navy has a tradition of bearing that honour with pride and dedication. Indian armed forces are one of the strongest and most valiant forces in the world, and Indian Navy is the gem of the Armed Forces. On the occasion of Navy Day, here are some incredibly interesting and amazing facts about the Indian Navy, which every proud Indian must know.
1. World’s oldest tidal dock!
It seems that Indians have always been adept at sea faring activities. No wonder then that people of the Harappan civilisation, who had settled in Gujarat, built the world’s first naval dockyard, some 7,600 years ago! The dockyard was built in the Harappan city of Lothal, at around 23oo BC. Lothal engineers studied tidal movements and their effects on brick-built structures and constructed kiln-burnt brick walls. Boats of 60-75 tonnes capacity and 20-25 metres in length could enter Lothal dock, which was designed in such a manner as to ensure berthing 20-30 boats of a fairly large size. Large foreign and Indian ships could enter the harbour without any difficulty.
2. Operation Trident- Indian navy’s certificate for total badassery!
(An Indian Killer squadron missile boat that participated in the attack) Source: Wikipedia
The Indian Navy fought one of the largest naval conflicts since the Second World War. During the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, the Indian Navy executed a blockade, carrier aircraft bombing missions and cruise missile strikes against land targets. The entire operation was known as Operation Trident and it resulted in the first use of anti-ship missiles in combat in the region, and only the second worldwide. Using anti-ship cruise missiles to destroy Pakistani oil tank farms was quite innovative for its time. This is why Navy Day is celebrated on the Anniversary of Operation Trident!
3. Kerala’s Naval Academy- the largest in Asia
The Ezhimala Naval Academy in Kerala is the largest of its kind in Asia. The Naval Academy (NAVAC) was established in May 1969, while its Ezhimala campus was inaugurated on 8 January 2009 and the name changed to Indian Naval Academy. It shares the 2,452 acres (9.92 km2) site with the naval base depot, INS Zamorin, and the naval hospital, INHS Navjivani. Admission to INA as graduate officer-trainees of the Indian Navy is conducted through a written examination conducted by the UPSC, followed by 5-days of testing and interviews conducted by the Services Selection Board (SSB). These cover general aptitude, psychological testing, medical tests, team skills as well as physical and social skills.
4. Sagar Pawan- one of only two naval aerobatic teams in the world!
Sagar Pawan is the aerobatic demonstration team of the Indian Navy. It is one of the only two naval aerobatic teams in the world, the other being the Blue Angels of the US Navy. The team uses 4 HJT-16 Kiran Mk.2 trainer aircrafts, and the colour scheme used by the aircraft is dark blue on white. Sagar Pawan was formed in 2003 at Dabolim Naval Air Station in Goa, Southern India, as the first demonstration was in May 2003. The team flew four HJT-16 Kiran Mk.II planes attached to INAS 551 Squadron, painted in dark blue and white. Planes were used white, red and blue smokes. However, the team hasn’t flown ever since an accident in 2010, killed the pilot and the co-pilot.
5. MARCOS- ‘The few, the fearless’
MARCOS or Marine Commandos are the special force of Indian Navy. They are called ‘the few, the fearless’ as they are one of the most feared Indian forces. They are the most efficient special force. However, becoming a MARCO or a Marine Commando is no cakewalk. Depending on the specialisation, MARCO trainees have to go one of world’s toughest courses. But to be selected to undergo the training is in itself extremely difficult. Almost 80% of the applicants are rejected. But lady luck can be hardly seen smiling at those who do manage to get through, as the selection follows five-week-long ‘hell’s week’, which includes sleep deprivation and intense physical training.
6. Shivaji Maharaj- the ‘Father of Indian Navy’!
Shivaji demonstrated great skill in creating his military organisation, which lasted till the demise of the Maratha empire. He also built a powerful navy, which is why he is considered as the Father of Indian Navy. He built a strong naval presence across the coast of Konkan and Goa to protect sea trade. The navy under Shivaji was so strong that the Marathas coule hold their against the British, Portuguese and Dutch. Shivaji realised the importance of having a secure coastline and protecting the western Konkan coastline from the attacks of Siddi’s fleet. His strategy was to build a strong navy to protect and bolster his kingdom.
7. The Giant of Indian Navy
(Indian Navy Sea Harriers and Indian Air Force SEPECAT Jaguars with a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet overfly Viraat.) Source: Wikipedia
INS Viraat is a Centaur-class aircraft carrier in service with the Indian Navy. INS Viraat was the flagship of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013. The last British-built ship serving with the Indian Navy, she is the oldest aircraft carrier in service in the world and is one of three carriers based in the Indian Ocean region. The HMS Harriers (airplanes on INS VIRAAT) are one of its kind, which have the ability of vertical landing and take-off. Sadly, Viraat is to be decommissioned in 2016, leading to a piece of Indian naval history becoming a mere artifact.
8. The Slayer of Enemies
INS Arihant- the first in the series of Arihant class submarines- is India’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine and hence is not limited by fuel, but by its ability to carry food for its men. It has the capability to shoot missiles tipped with nuclear warheads even from a depth of 0.5 km beneath the sea. Its 100-member crew have been trained by Russian specialists, Indian scientists at Mumbai’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre have developed a significant expertise in reducing the size of the reactor to help it fit into the 10 metres (33 ft) diameter hull of the submarine. As per Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the sea trials of INS Arihant will last for 8 to 10 months, before its induction and commissioning into the Indian Navy in the first quarter of 2016.
9. Sagar Prahari Bal- the patrol force
Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) formed in March 2009 after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, is the unit of the Indian Navy responsible for patrolling India’s coastal waters. The force consists of 1,000 personnel and is equipped with 80 patrol boats. The force was constituted after the Mumbai terror attacks and the main duty of the force is to guard against such terrorist attacks by patrolling the coastline and also to conduct search and rescue operations. The soldiers are trained at INS Shivaji, a naval training and engineering base, near Lonavla. The SPB maintains security at all major and minor ports in India and carries out round the clock patrolling and is also part of search and rescue operations in times of emergency.
10. The ‘Three Poles’ Challenge
Indian Navy successfully completed an expedition to the North Pole and the South Pole. Indian Navy was also the first navy to send a submariner to an expedition to Mt. Everest! A ten-member team of the Indian Navy created history in May 2008, by reaching the North Pole and joining an elite group of adventurers who have conquered the “three poles”. The Indian Navy expedition became the first ever of any Indian Team to have successfully ski traversed both the geographic poles.