The ocean along India’s eastern coast is buzzing with activity as ships line up and friendly naval contingents from around the world arrive for the country’s second International Fleet Review (IFR) on Saturday – and the first on this scale.
On the theme “United through Oceans”, the IFR is set to see participation of around 50 navies, 90 ships, including 24 warships, and over 70 aircraft. In addition, ships of the Indian Coast Guard and mercantile marine would also be participating.
A fleet review is a ceremonial and stately inspection of naval warships by the supreme commander of the armed forces, President Pranab Mukherjee.
This is the second time an IFR is being held in India, the last being held off Mumbai in 2001 when APJ Abdul Kalam was the president. Twenty-nine countries had participated in that event.
Indian presidents have since reviewed Indian Navy fleets twice, in 2006, and 2011. The Indian Navy fleet for the IFR will comprise of over 75 frontline ships and submarines.
The president will also review the Indian Naval air arm. Also featuring will be a flypast led by Rear Admiral P.K. Bahl, Flag Officer Naval Aviation and comprising 15 formations of 45 aircraft, including two formations from the Indian Coast Guard.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the gathering on Sunday and also release a book on India’s maritime heritage. There will also be a Make in India exhibition to showcase “innovation, indigenisation and potential of the youth”.
The display will showcase navy’s latest acquisitions such as the carrier-borne MIG 29K strike fighter, the P8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and the KM-31 AEW helicopter.
The list of participating navies includes the United States of America, China, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Canada, Russia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Brazil, .
With huge crowds expected to gather for the spectacular event, the navy has made arrangements for galleries to accommodate 20,000 spectators, while another 150,000 can be accommodated on the beaches.
The Indian Navy has achieved 90 percent indigenisation in its “float” component and of varying degrees in its other components. It aims at 100 percent indigenisation in its 15-year plan released last year.
While the the navy showcases its strength, the soft power of Indian culture has not been given a miss either with a series of cultural events lined up as an extra treat for the spectators.
The cultural events, in collaboration with South Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur, includes folk dance performances, classical dances, music, and a reinterpretation of the “Mahabharat” epic.