New Delhi/Kochi: India on Thursday celebrated 43rd Navy Day, with Chief of Naval staff Admiral Robin K Dhowan saying the Navy personnel would rededicate themselves to the service of the nation.
"On the occasion of Navy Day 2014, the personnel of the Navy rededicate themselves to the service of the nation. Indian Navy is a multi-dimensional combat force, we shoulder the responsibility to safeguard maritime interests of nation," said Admiral Dhowan.
The Navy chief, along with Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Army Chief Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag also paid tributes to martyrs of INS Sindhurakshak at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi.
He also assured that all aspects were being analysed as to why the accident took place.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi saluted "Navy personnel and the impregnable spirit and utmost devotion with which they protect our Motherland".
The PM also tweeted:
The steadfast dedication & valour of our Navy Personnel is an unparalleled asset for our Nation. pic.twitter.com/wLctI3JpKj
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 4, 2014
President Pranab Mukherjee also extended his greetings and felicitations to all members of the Indian Navy and their families on the occasion of Navy Day 2014. In his message, the President said: "The current geostrategic environment has enhanced the role and responsibilities of the Indian Navy in protecting the nation’s maritime interests. The Navy’s successful induction of indigenously constructed warships and submarines and its integration of Indian-made equipment and systems symbolise India’s growing maritime capabilities and quest for strategic self-reliance. It is indeed a matter of great pride and reassurance to the entire nation that the uniformed and civilian personnel of the Navy have been serving the nation with utmost devotion and dedication. They have countered effectively growing challenges and maintained constant vigil at sea."
Paying tributes to martyrs on the occasion of Navy Day, Flag officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval command, Vice Admiral SPS Cheema laid wreaths at the war memorial in Kochi on behalf of the Naval fraternity.
Floral tributes were paid at the memorial by retired service personnel from the three services and the Coast Guard, persons from civil society and local administration, a Naval press release said.
Ernakulam District Collector MG Rajamanickam, Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) Chairman, N Venugopal were among those who paid tributes.
The event also saw presence of representatives from friendly nations, including Fiji, Maldives, Mauritius, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
The wreath-laying ceremony is a mark of respect and gratitude to the martyrs on behalf of their respective services and organisations.
The Navy Children School choir rendered patriotic songs on the solemn occasion.
On the eve of the 43rd Navy Day, Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan noted an increase in threats from the sea, but added that the Indian Navy is prepared.
At a press conference, the Navy chief said terror threat from the sea was a real challenge to be dealt with.
"It is a very, very serious situation which we have taken serious note of," Dhowan said, responding to a question on the attempted hijack of Pakistani ship PNS Zulfiqar.
Asked if the Navy takes into account the possibility that there might be a jihadi group on board when it encounters a Pakistani ship, he said: "We are taking that aspect into account."
On a lighter note, he said: "Out at sea, when officers on watch report to the captain that we have a warship from another Navy, the captain would tell the officer to wish him (the other warship) good morning because he is in international waters and so are you."
"Well, in this changed environment, we have to rethink. We may not wish him good morning and actually carry out a surveillance and figure out who he is," he said.
According to reports, al Qaeda militants tried to hijack a Pakistan Navy frigate earlier this month and use it to target US Navy vessels on anti-terrorism patrol in the northwestern Indian Ocean.
Dhowan, however, said this increases the threat perception for the Navy.
"Terror threat is a real challenge," he said, adding, "challenges have gone up, there are pirates, floating armouries".
On the port infrastructure built by China in neighbouring countries, Dhowan said it was being monitored closely.
About the accident in submarine Sindhurakshak, he said human error led to the sinking of the vessel.
Eighteen navy personnel - three officers and 15 sailors - perished when blasts ripped through the torpedo compartment of the INS Sindhurakshak while the submarine was berthed in Mumbai harbour.
(With Agency inputs)