Arakkonam naval base: Pride was writ large on the faces of naval staff at Arakkonam Base, the strategic defence asset that is playing a stellar and critical role in carrying out the rescue and relief operations for people affected by the torrential rains in Chennai.
"This is the best Navy Day for us. No celebrations, this is the celebration... Uniting families. Our duty is to save peoples' lives and this occasion fills us with pride and humility," a senior Naval official told PTI here.
Under an able leadership, the naval base, located 70 kms south of Chennai, and the Tambaram Air Base, nearly 30 kms outside the capital city, have become the two nerve centres on the rescue operations map.
Over 600 rescued people were ferried today from the base named 'INS Rajali'. As people lined up to board aircraft on the tarmac here, they shook hands with naval staff and officials on duty.
Lt Commander Abhinav, who helped in crowd management, wished 'Happy Navy Day' to all on his megaphone, and as many people came to wish him back, he shook their hands strongly with pride flushed on his face.
"It is not the importance that we have as one of the three forces of the country, but what we do make us feel proud. Today is a day of festival for us, and by rescuing people or contributing to it, we are celebrating it," he said.
December 4 is celebrated as Navy Day to commemorate the start of operation Trident during 1971 Indo-Pak war.
The importance of this base can be judged from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday landed here during his visit to Tamil Nadu to assess the situation in the wake of torrential rains in Chennai that has left several areas of the city and its neighbouring regions inundated.
"The PM's aircraft landed here and from INS Rajali, he boarded a Mi-14 chopper to conduct an aerial survey of the damage caused and relied and rescue needed. He later landed at 'INS Adyar' where he met the chief minister," the senior naval official said.
Having one of the longest military runways in the country, the naval base is facilitating rescue operations by allowing easy landing of C-17s, which have been ferrying civilians and NDRF and defence personnel teams for the past several days.
"We are feeling very happy today. This day means a lot to us. And, we have been able to play a critical role in rescuing people makes us feel prouder today," said Sub Lieutenant Sidharth, as he shok hands with people greeting him on the occasion.
As per the rescue plan, the IAF has made an air bridge between Meenambakkam (airport area) and Arakonnam and another one between Tamabaram Air Base and Arakonnam Base.