Mumbai: The Indian Navy has acquired its "rightful place" in the Indian Ocean but has a huge responsibility of protecting the nation`s strategic and diplomatic interests, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Friday.
"The Indian Navy has acquired its rightful place in the strategically vital Indian Ocean Region," Antony said before the induction of INS Deepak, a new fleet tanker built by an Italian firm in a record time of 27 months for India.
The Indian Navy, he said, with its capability has also placed "on it an onerous responsibility".
"India`s continued presence in Indian Ocean waters necessitates pursuing our strategic and diplomatic interests. A ship such as Deepak, with an ability to sustain the Indian fleets at sea for prolonged periods, is a vital asset to ensure Indian Navy`s continuous presence in our area of interest," he said.
The defence minister said that the navy has embarked on an ambitious shipbuilding programme to provide it with the required maritime assets to meet its mandate.
"Indian defence shipyards are working to their full capacity to meet the country`s warship requirements," he said.
He said the build strategy and the integrated construction approach adopted in constructing the ship has been a technology demonstrator for Indian shipbuilders.
"I am sure you will put to greater use the lessons learnt during this venture," he told Indian Navy officers and personnel present at the induction ceremony onboard INS Deepak.