As Indian Navy is set to hold its second International Fleet Review (IFR), an offshore patrol vessel, INS Sumitra, has been converted to serve as the presidential yacht from which the supreme commander of the armed forces, President Pranab Mukherjee will inspect the fleet.
INS Sumitra is the fourth and last of the Saryu class patrol vessel of the Indian Navy, designed and constructed by Goa Shipyard Limited. It is designed to undertake fleet support operations, coastal and offshore patrolling, ocean surveillance and monitoring of sea lines of communications and offshore assets and escort duties.
The vessel was also involved in the rescue operations from Yemen during Operation Rahat in the wake of fighting between government forces and tribal rebels. The vessel rescued 350 Indian citizens by evacuating them from Aden to Djibouti across the Red Sea.
With the Ashoka emblem on her side and flying the President’s Standard on the mast, the yatch is set to stand out amidst the scores of lined-up ships.
For the IFR, the upper deck of the ship has been modified to host the VVIP guests along with the president.
Some changes have also been made in the interior of the ship, and an operation theater and a cardio lab have been set up along with other medical facilities.
On February 6, the president will board the yacht after a 21-gun salute and a ceremonial guard of honour. The presidential yacht will weave through the 90 ships planned to be part of the fleet review off the Visakhapatnam port.
As the yacht passes between the review columns, each ship, flying its full regalia, will salute the president.
Along the way, the president will also witness operational demonstrations in the form of a breathtaking flypast by the naval air arm and a daring display by the elite marine commandoes.
The skills of the yachtsmen of Indian Navy embodying the spirit of adventure will also be on display. During the final stage of the review, a mobile column of warships and submarines will stage a high-speed steam-past alongside the yacht.
Handed over to the Indian Navy on July 18, 2014, INS Sumitra is one of its newest ships, commissioned into the fleet by the Indian Navy chief, Admiral R.K. Dhowan, on September 4, 2014 in Chennai.
Under the Eastern Naval Command, the ship is commanded by Commander Milind Mokashi.
INS Sumitra was diverted from her anti-piracy patrol in the Lakshadweep region to join the operation while Saudi Arabia-led forces were conducting air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.