President Patil creates history, sails in warship

After taking off in the frontline Sukhoi jet and riding a battle tank, President Pratibha on Tuesday had a tryst with the Navy as she created history by sailing a warship here to review an impressive naval steampast.

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2011, 14:18 PM IST

Mumbai: After taking off in the frontline
Sukhoi jet and riding a battle tank, President Pratibha on Tuesday
had a tryst with the Navy as she created history by sailing a
warship here to review an impressive naval steampast.

77-year-old Patil, who reviewed a naval fleet of 81 ships
and 44 aircraft, said the Navy`s dominance in the region is
set to grow with the induction of an aircraft carrier, new
submarines and destroyers.

"The Navy today is poised to achieve new milestones with
the imminent induction of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, the
Kolkata class stealth destroyers, the follow-on frigates of
the Talwar class, the indigenous ASW corvettes and an
impressive number of submarines and aircraft.

"Today, the Indian Navy is one of the most capable in the
region and with its well thought out modernisation plans, is
destined to grow even further," Patil said while addressing
naval officers and personnel onboard INS Subhadra, a naval off
shore patrol vessel.

Patil, who was secured by the elite marine commandos
(Marcos) and snipers on the ship, wore a Navy cap as she took
salute from different class of ships and aircrafts of the Navy
during the over two-hour `Presidential Fleet Review` ceremony.

A fleet review is conducted once in the tenure of a
President to showcase to the Supreme Commander of the Armed
Forces and the country, the naval prowess and its strike
capabilities.

"Safeguarding of our maritime borders is a major
requirement for the social and economic well being of our
country. The oil exploration activities off our coasts and at
sea are of significant economic importance. Therefore, the
protection of our coast our `sea lines of communications` and
the offshore development areas is a major pre-requisite of our
nation`s development. These are major roles for the Indian
Navy," Patil said in her address.

The President was accompanied by Defence Minister A
K Antony, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju,
the Maharashtra Governor, the three Service Chiefs and four
Cabinet ministers on-board the warship.

The review began at 0900 hours with a 150-men Guard of
Honour and customary 21-gun salute accorded to Patil.

Patil began the review by first sailing past the INS
Agray- an anti-submarine patrol vessel- as the sailors took
off their caps and hailed their Supreme Commander with the
shouts of `Rashtrapati ki Jai`.

The President, in response, stood up and saluted each of
the ships. The last to salute the President was country`s lone
aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

The Navy also offered a brief glimpse of its air power by
flying its fighter, transport and surveillance aircraft.

"The Indian Navy has grown in strength and stature over
the last decade. The launch of nuclear submarine Arihant, and induction of the indigenously built Shivalik class frigates
are a reflection of the capability of our shipyards and
technological competence of our personnel," she said.

Patil said India is a maritime nation, with significant
maritime interests and alive to many security challenges.

"A preponderant proportion of our overseas trade is
through the sea routes. Our nation is surrounded by water
bodies on three sides. This gives us an inherent geographical
advantage, but it also poses numerous security challenges,"
she said.

The President also talked about anti-piracy operations
conducted by the Navy in high seas.

"Since the menace of piracy surfaced in our maritime
neighbourhood, the Indian Navy has been involved in
anti-piracy missions and has earned the gratitude of the
maritime community and of other natives operating in the
region for their efforts," she said.

"I am aware that with these increased challenges and
tasks, our ships are being deployed to the far reaches of the
oceans for prolonged duration. Our officers and sailors have
consistently risen to the occasion and displayed the utmost
dedication and commitment while working tirelessly in a
difficult environment," she said.

"I congratulate and commend each one of you for this,"
she said amidst applause from Navy personnel.

"I am confident that our fleet is fully prepared to meet
any challenges that may threaten the maritime security of our
nation in the future. As the Supreme Commander of India`s Armed
Forces, I am convinced of the capacity and resolve of our
Naval personnel. I wish the Indian Navy fair winds, following
seas and a glorious future," she said.

After the fleet review, Patil inaugurated a Naval museum
here which displays the history of the water force and of the
ship building enterprise.

PTI