Indian Navy

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Indian Navy
Bhāratīya Nau Senā
भारतीय नौसेना
Indian Navy crest.svg
Indian Navy crest
Active 1830–Present
Country India
Type Navy
Size 58,350 active personnel
219 ships & 213 aircraft[1]
Part of Indian Armed Forces,(Ministry of Defence, Government of India)
Headquarters New Delhi
Motto शं नो वरुणः Transliteration: Shan Oh Varunah (May the Lord of the Water be auspicious unto us)
Colours Navy Blue, White         
March Jai Bharati
Fleet 2 aircraft carriers
1 amphibious transport dock
9 landing ship tanks
10 destroyers
14 frigates
26 corvettes
6 mine countermeasure vessels
14 submarines
4 replenishment oilers
Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral RK Dhowan[2]
Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral P Murugesan[3]
Admiral S. M. Nanda
Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson
Naval Ensign
Naval Ensign of India.svg
Naval Jack
Flag of India.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Mikoyan MiG-29K, BAE Sea Harrier
Dornier Do 228
Fighter Mikoyan MiG-29K, BAE Sea Harrier
Helicopter HAL Dhruv, Kamov Ka-28, Kamov Ka-31, Sea King Mk.42C, UH-3 Sea King
Patrol Boeing P-8 Poseidon Ilyushin Il-38, Tupolev Tu-142
Reconnaissance Dornier Do 228, IAI Heron, IAI Searcher Mk II
Trainer BAE Hawk, HAL HJT-16, Harrier T-60

The Indian Navy (IN; Hindi: भारतीय नौ सेना (Devanāgarī), Bhāratīya Nau Senā (Latin)) is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the navy. The Indian Navy is the fifth largest in the world.[4] It played an important role in India's victory in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.[5]

The Indian Navy can trace its lineage back to the Honourable East India Company's Marine which was founded in 1612 to protect British merchant shipping in the region. In 1757 the East India Company established its rule over much of the Indian subcontinent, but it wasn't until 1830 that the colonial navy became known as Her Majesty's Indian Navy. In 1858, East India Company rule gave way to the British Raj which lasted until India became independent in 1947. When India became a republic in 1950, the Royal Indian Navy as it had been named since 1934 was renamed to Indian Navy. The 17th-century Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is considered as the 'Father of the Indian Navy'.[6][7][8]

The primary objective of the navy is to secure the nation's maritime borders, India also uses its navy to enhance its international relations through joint exercises, port visits and humanitarian missions, including disaster relief. In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone rapid modernisation to replace its ageing equipment currently in service, this is often seen as part of "India's drive" to develop blue-water capabilities and enhance its position in the Indian Ocean region.[9][10]

As of 2015, the Indian Navy has a strength of 58,350 personnel and a large operational fleet consisting of two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, 9 Landing ship tanks, 10 destroyers, 14 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, 14 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 25 corvettes, 7 mine countermeasure vessels, 47 patrol vessels, 4 fleet tankers and various other auxiliary vessels.


Early maritime history

India has a maritime history dating back 5,600 years.[11][12][13][14] The first tidal dock is estimated to have been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Indus Valley Civilisation, near the present day Mangrol harbour on the Gujarat coast.[15][16] The Rig Veda written around 1500 BC, credits Varuna with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes naval expeditions. There is reference to the side wings of a vessel called Plava, which give stability to the ship under storm conditions. A compass, the Matsya Yantra, was used for navigation in the fourth and fifth century AD.

Chola territories during Rajendra Chola I, c. 1030

The earliest known reference to an organisation devoted to ships in ancient India is to the Mauryan Empire from the fourth century BCE. Emperor Chandragupta Maurya's Prime Minister Kautilya's Arthashastra devotes a full chapter on the state department of waterways under navadhyaksha (Sanskrit for Superintendent of ships) [3]. The term, nava dvipantaragamanam (Sanskrit for sailing to other lands by ships, i.e. Exploration) appears in this book in addition to appearing in the Sanskrit text, Baudhayana Dharmasastra as the interpretation of the term, Samudrasamyanam.

Sea lanes between India and neighbouring lands were the usual form of trade for many centuries, and are responsible for the widespread influence of Indian Culture on other societies. Powerful navies included those of the Chola dynasty, Maurya Empire, Satavahana, Gupta Empire, Pala, Pandya, Vijayanagara Empire, Kalinga, Mughal and Maratha Empire empires.[17] Particularly the Chola dynasty had a powerful navy which conquered parts of Maritime Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka in the 11th century during the reign of Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I and Kulothunga Chola I.[18][19] The Palas and the Cholas excelled in foreign trade and maritime activity, extending their influence overseas to China and Southeast Asia. The Maratha naval power dominated the military scene in India for three centuries.[20] During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Maratha and Kerala fleets were expanded, and became the most powerful Naval Forces in the subcontinent, defeating European Navies at various times (See the Battle of Colachel). The 'Pal' was a three masted fighter with guns peeping on the broadsides. Kanhoji Angre and Kunjali Marakkar, the Naval chief of Saamoothiri, were two notable naval chiefs of the period.[21]

1612 origins to independence

Indian Navy
Naval Ensign of India.svg
शं नो वरुणः
"May the Lord of the Water

be auspicious unto us"

New Delhi
History and traditions
History of the Indian Navy
Current Indian Navy ships
History of Indian Navy ships
Indian Navy bases
Chief of the Naval Staff
Naval ranks and insignia
MARCOS commandos

In 1612, the English East India Company established the East India Company's Marine to protect its merchant shipping off the Gulf of Cambay and up the Narmada and Tapti rivers. Its first fighting ships in India were acquired on 5 September 1612. This force evolved into Her Majesty's Indian Navy in 1830, while most of India was under British rule. The force at this time had British officers and Indian sailors. The Navy saw action in the First Opium War of 1840 and in the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852. During World War I, the force then known as the Royal Indian Marine undertook mine sweeping, as well as supply and support operations for the Allies.

Sub Lieutenant D. N. Mukherji was the first Indian to be granted a commission as an engineer officer in 1928. In 1934, the navy was renamed as the Royal Indian Navy (RIN).

The onset of World War II led to an expansion in numbers of vessels and personnel. The navy was actively involved in operations during the war around the world. Its sloops HMIS Sutlej and HMIS Jumna played a key role in Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily.[22] It was heavily involved in operations around the Indian Ocean, including convoy escorts, mine-sweeping, supply, as well as supporting amphibious assaults. At the end of the war, the navy underwent rapid, large-scale demobilization of vessels and personnel. In 1946, Indian sailors started the Royal Indian Navy mutiny, a rebellion influenced by activities of Indian National Army and post-WWII political unrest in India on board ships and on shore establishments to protest discrimination against Indian officers and sailors by the British and the putting on trial of ex-Indian National Army soldiers and officers. A total of 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors were involved in the rebellion, which spread all over India. This rebellion failed as the rebels did not receive support from the political leaders. After the independence of India on 15 August 1947 and the ensuing partition, the RIN's depleted fleet of ships and remaining personnel were divided between the newly independent Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan.

When India became a republic on 26 January 1950, the Royal prefix was dropped and the name Indian Navy was officially adopted. The prefix on her ships was changed to Indian Naval Ship (INS).

Independence to the end of the 20th century

During the early years following independence, the navy still had many British officers who continued to serve with the Indian Navy. Vice Admiral Ram Dass Katari was the first Indian to assume office as the Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy on 22 April 1958. The first engagement in action of the Indian Navy was against the Portuguese Navy during the liberation of Goa in 1961. Operation Vijay followed years of escalating tension due to Portuguese refusal to relinquish its colonies in India. On 21 November 1961, Portuguese troops fired on the passenger liner Sabarmati near Anjadip Island, killing one person and injuring another. During Operation Vijay, the Indian Navy supported troop landings and provided fire support. INS Delhi (1948) sank one Portuguese patrol boat, while frigates INS Betwa (1960) and INS Beas (1960) destroyed the Portuguese frigate NRP Afonso de Albuquerque.[23] The 1962 Sino-Indian War was largely fought over the Himalayas and the Navy had only a defensive role in the war.

Indian Naval activity in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 largely involved coastal patrols. During the war, the Pakistani Navy attacked the Indian coastal city of Dwarka, although there were no military resources in the area. While this attack was insignificant,[24] India deployed naval resources to patrol the coast and deter further bombardment. Following these wars in the 1960s, India resolved to strengthen the profile and capabilities of its Armed Forces.

Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (R11) during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It played a crucial role in enforcing the naval blockade on East Pakistan and ensuring India's victory during the war.

The dramatic change in the Indian Navy's capabilities and stance was emphatically demonstrated during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Under the command of Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda, the navy successfully enforced a naval blockade of West and East Pakistan.[5]

Pakistan's lone long-range submarine PNS Ghazi was sunk following an attack by the destroyer INS Rajput (1942) off the coast of Visakhapatnam around midnight of 3–4 December 1971.[25][26][27][28][29] On 4 December, the Indian Navy successfully executed Operation Trident, a devastating attack on the Pakistan Naval Headquarters of Karachi that sank a minesweeper, a destroyer and an ammunition supply ship. The attack also irreparably damaged another destroyer and oil storage tanks at the Karachi port.To commemorate this, December 4 is celebrated as the Navy Day. This was followed by Operation Python on 8 December 1971, further deprecating the Pakistan Navy's capabilities. Indian frigate INS Khukri, commanded by Captain M. N. Mulla was sunk by the PNS Hangor (S131), while INS Kirpan (1959) was damaged on the west coast. In the Bay of Bengal, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (R11) was deployed to successfully enforce the naval blockade on East Pakistan. Sea Hawk and the Alizés aircraft from INS Vikrant sank numerous gunboats and Pakistani merchant marine ships.[30] To demonstrate its solidarity as an ally of Pakistan, the United States of America sent Task Force 74 centred around the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal. In retaliation, Soviet Navy submarines trailed the American task force, which moved away from the Indian Ocean towards Southeast Asia to avert a confrontation.[31] In the end, the Indian naval blockade of Pakistan choked off the supply of reinforcements to the Pakistani forces,[32] which proved to be decisive in the overwhelming defeat of Pakistan.[33][34]

Since playing a decisive role in the victory, the navy has been a deterrent force maintaining peace for India in a region of turmoil. In 1983, the Indian Navy planned for Operation Lal Dora to support the government of Mauritius against a feared coup.[35] In 1986, in Operation Flowers are Blooming, the Indian Navy averted an attempted coup in the Seychelles.[36] In 1988, India launched Operation Cactus, to successfully thwart a coup d'état by PLOTE in the Maldives.[37] Naval maritime reconnaissance aircraft detected the ship hijacked by PLOTE rebels. INS Godavari (F20) and Indian marine commandos recaptured the ship and arrested the rebels.[38] During the 1999 Kargil War, the Western and Eastern fleets were deployed in the Northern Arabian Sea, as a part of Operation Talwar.[39] They safeguarded India's maritime assets from a potential Pakistani naval attack, as also deterred Pakistan from attempting to block India's sea-trade routes.[40] The Indian Navy's aviators flew sorties and marine commandos fought alongside Indian Army personnel in the Himalayas.[41][42]

21st century onwards

Indian Navy flotilla including aircraft carrier INS Viraat escorting INS Vikramaditya on its way home in 2014

In the 21st century, the Indian Navy has played an important role in maintaining peace for India on the maritime front, in spite of the state of foment in its neighbourhood.[43] It has been deployed for humanitarian relief in times of natural disasters and crises across the globe, as well as to keep India's maritime trade routes free and open.

The Indian Navy was a part of the joint forces exercises, Operation Parakram, during the 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff. More than a dozen warships were deployed to the northern Arabian Sea.[44] In 2001, the Indian Navy took over operations to secure the Strait of Malacca, to relieve US Navy resources for Operation Enduring Freedom.[45]

The navy plays an important role in providing humanitarian relief in times of natural disasters, including floods, cyclones and tsunamis. In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Indian Navy launched massive disaster relief operations to help affected Indian states as well as Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Over 27 ships, dozens of helicopters, at least 6 fixed-wing aircraft and over 5000 personnel of the navy were deployed in relief operations.[46] These included Operation Madad in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Operation Sea Waves in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Operation Castor in Maldives, Operation Rainbow in Sri Lanka and Operation Gambhir in Indonesia.[47] This was one of the largest and fastest force mobilizations that the Indian Navy has undertaken. Indian naval rescue vessels and teams reached neighbouring countries less than 12 hours from the time that the tsunami hit.[46][48] Lessons from the response led to decision to enhance amphibious force capabilities, including the acquisition of Landing Platform Docks such as the INS Jalashwa (L41), as well as smaller amphibious vessels.[49][50]

Guard of honour at the INA, 2012.

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Indian Navy launched Operation Sukoon to evacuate 2,286 Indian nationals and expatriates, besides 436 Sri Lankan and 69 Nepali citizens, from war-torn Lebanon.[51][52] In 2006, Indian naval doctors served for 102 days on board USNS Mercy to conduct about medical camps in Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and East Timor.[53] In 2007, Indian Navy supported relief operations for the survivors of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh.[54] In 2008, Indian Naval vessels were the first to launch international relief operations for victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.[55][56] In 2011, Indian Navy launched Operation Safe Homecoming and rescued Indian nationals from war torn Libya. During the 2015 crisis in Yemen, the Indian Navy was part of Operation Raahat and rescued 3074 individuals out of which 1291 were foreign nationals.[57]

In October 1999, a coordinated effort by the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard led to the rescue of pirated Japanese cargo ship, MV Alondra Rainbow.[58]

In 2008, the navy deployed INS Tabar (F44) and INS Mysore (D60) into the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy in Somalia.[59] Tabar prevented numerous piracy attempts,[60][61][62] and escorted hundreds of ships safely through the pirate-infested waters.[63][64][65] The navy also undertook anti-piracy patrols near the Seychelles, upon that country's request.[66][67][68] In 2011, the navy launched Operation Island Watch to deter piracy attempts by Somali pirates off the Lakshadweep archipelago. This operation has had numerous successes in preventing pirate attacks.[69][70][71][72][73] On 14 August 2013, the submarine INS Sindhurakshak sank in Bombay Dockyard due to explosions aboard.[74]

On 16 November 2013, the then, Defence Minister AK Antony commissioned a modified Kiev class aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in Severodvinsk in northern Russia.

Current role

Currently the principal roles of Indian Navy are:[75]

  • In conjunction with other Armed Forces of the union, act to deter or defeat any threats or aggression against the territory, people or maritime interests of India, both in war and peace;
  • Project influence in India's maritime area of interest, to further the nation's political, economic and security objectives;
  • In co-operation with the Indian Coast Guard, ensure good order and stability in India's maritime zones of responsibility.
  • Provide maritime assistance (including disaster relief) in India's maritime neighbourhood.

Command and organization


Indian Naval establishments

The Commander of the Navy is the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), who holds the rank of Admiral. While the provision for the rank of Admiral of the Fleet exists, it is primarily intended for major wartime use and honour. No officer of the Indian Navy has yet been conferred this rank. The CNS is assisted in his role as commander of the Navy by the Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS), a vice-admiral; the CNS also heads the Integrated Headquarters (IHQ) of the Ministry of Defence (Navy), based in New Delhi. The Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (DCNS), a vice-admiral, is the assistant head of IHQ, and is a Principal Staff Officer, along with the Chief of Personnel (COP) and the Chief of Materiel (COM), both of whom are also vice-admirals. The Director General Medical Services (Navy) is a Surgeon Vice-Admiral.[76]

The Indian Navy operates three Commands.[77] Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the rank of Vice Admiral. The Eastern and Western Commands each have a Fleet commanded by a rear admiral, and each also have a Commodore commanding submarines. The Southern Naval Command is home to the Flag Officer Sea Training.

Additionally, the Andaman and Nicobar Command headquartered at Port Blair is a unified tri-services command under the Commander in Chief Andaman and Nicobar (CINCAN) who reports to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) who is provided staff support by the Chief of Integrated Staff to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) in New Delhi. The Andaman and Nicobar Command, a unified Indian Navy, Indian Army Indian Air Force and Coast Guard Command was set up in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2001.[78]

At Integrated Headquarters-Ministry of Defence (Navy) Level[79]
Post Current Holder
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Robin K. Dhowan
Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral P Murugesan
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Karambir Singh
Chief of Personnel Vice Admiral AR Karve
Chief of Materiel Vice Admiral AV Subhedar
At Operational Command Level[79]
Commands HQ Location Current FOC-in-C
Western Naval Command Mumbai Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema[80]
Eastern Naval Command Visakhapatnam Vice Admiral Satish Soni[81]
Southern Naval Command Kochi Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba[82]


Indian Navy has its major operational bases in Visakhapatnam, Mumbai, Kochi and Chennai. In 2005, the Indian Navy commissioned INS Kadamba at Karwar, 100 km from Goa. The base is the first to be controlled exclusively by the Navy without sharing port facilities with commercial shipping. Built under phase I of the Project Seabird, it is the largest naval base in the region.[83] The largest naval academy in Asia, Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala, is operated by Indian Navy. The Indian Navy also has berthing rights in Oman and Vietnam.[84] The navy operates INS Kattabomman, a VLF and ELF transmission facility at Vijayanarayanapuram near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu.[85]

The Navy operates a monitoring station, fitted with radars and surveillance gear to intercept maritime communication, in Madagascar. It also plans to build a further 32 radar stations in Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives and Sri Lanka.[86] According to Intelligence Online published by France-based global intelligence gathering organization, Indigo Publications, the Navy is believed to be operating a listening post in Ras al-Hadd, Oman. The post is located directly across from Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan, separated by approximately 400 km of the Arabian Sea.[87]

INS Vajrakosh, commissioned on 9 September 2015, is the latest establishment of the Indian Navy at Karwar, Karnataka which will serve as special storage facility for specialised armaments and missiles. INS Vajrakosh will have all the required infrastructure and will be manned by specialists to provide specialised servicing facilities for these sophisticated missiles and ammunition.[88]

Rank Structure

As of 2010 the Indian Navy has 58,350 personnel on active duty (including 7,000 Naval Aviation, 2,000 Marine commandos),[89][90] and 1,000 Sagar Prahari Bal soldiers.[91]

Rank Insignia
Shoulder IN Admiral of the NAVY Shoulder curl.png IN Admiral Shoulder curl.pngIndian Admiral.jpg IN Vice Admiral Shoulder curl.pngIndian Vice Admiral.gif IN Rear Admiral Shoulder curl.pngIndia Rear Admiral.gif IN Commodore.png IN Captain.png IN Commander.png IN Lieutenant Commander.png IN Lieutenant.png IN Sublieutenant.png
Sleeve Generic-Navy-O12-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O11-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O10-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O9-sleeve.svg EgyptianNavyInsignia-Commodore-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O7-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O5-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O4-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O3-sleeve.svg Generic-Navy-O1-sleeve.svg
Rank Admiral of
the Fleet
Admiral2 Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore Captain Commander Lieutenant
Lieutenant Sublieutenant
Uniforms of Indian Navy

Naval Air Arm

A MiG-29K landing on INS Vikramaditya

The naval air-arm is an important component of the Indian Navy. The air arm consists of MiG-29Ks and the Sea Harrier jets that operate from the aircraft carriers INS Viraat and INS Vikramaditya. The Kamov-31 also operates from the aircraft carriers and provide the airborne early warning cover for the fleet. In the anti-submarine role the Sea King, Ka-28 and the domestic built HAL Dhruv are used. The MARCOS also use Sea King and HAL Dhruv helicopters while conducting operations. Maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations are carried out by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, the Tupolev 142 and the Ilyushin 38. The UAV arm consists of the IAI Heron and Searcher-IIs that are operated from both surface ships and shore establishments for surveillance missions.

The Indian Navy also maintains a four-aircraft aerobatic display team, the Sagar Pawan. The Sagar Pawan team will be replacing their present Kiran HJT-16 aircraft with the newly developed HJT-36 aircraft.[92]

The southernmost naval air station, INS Bazz was formally opened on 31 July 2012 by the Indian Navy Chief at Cambell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With the commissioning of this station, the country acquired increased capability to keep vigil on the vital maritime channel of the Straits of Malacca.[93]


HAL Dhruv helicopter of the Indian Navy extracting Marine Commandos MARCOS on Navy day 2013 at Kochi

The Marine Commando Force (MCF), also known as MARCOS, is a special forces unit that was raised by the Indian Navy in 1987 for direct action, special reconnaissance, amphibious warfare and counter-terrorism. In 1988, the MARCOS successfully rescued several hostages, including Maldives' then-Minister of Tourism, aboard a ship hijacked by PLOTE mercenaries during Operation Cactus. The MARCOS are typically deployed to prevent infiltration through the Jhelum River and Wular Lake and are also involved in covert counter-terrorism operations in and around lakes and rivers in Jammu and Kashmir.[94][95]

During the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the MARCOS were also involved in the rescue mission of hostages captured by the terrorists in Taj Mahal Palace & Tower luxury hotel in Mumbai as part of a large terrorist attack in Mumbai metropolis in November 2008.[96]



The names of all in service ships (and Naval Bases) of the Indian Navy are prefixed with the letters INS, designating Indian Naval Ship or Indian Navy Station. The fleet of the Indian Navy is a mixture of domestic built and foreign vessels.

The Indian Navy presently has two aircraft carriers in active service, the INS Viraat and INS Vikramaditya. INS Viraat is planned for decommissioning after the induction of the first domestically built Vikrant class aircraft carrier.[97] In 2004, India bought the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov for the equivalent of US$974 Million. It cost an additional US$1.326 billion to overhaul the vessel and refit it entirely with new electronic, weapon systems and sensors,bringing the total procurement cost to USD 2.3 Billion. INS Vikramaditya sailed to India after her commissioning on 15 November 2013. It joined active service by December 2013.[98] The Indian Navy has an amphibious transport dock of the Austin class, re-christened as INS Jalashwa in Indian service. It also maintains a fleet of landing ship tanks. It is expected that four more amphibious transport docks will be constructed in the future.[99]

The navy currently operates two Kolkata, three Delhi and five Rajput-class guided-missile destroyers. The ships of the Rajput class will be replaced in the near future by the next-generation Visakhapatnam-class destroyers (Project 15B) which will feature a number of improvements.

In addition to destroyers, the navy operates several classes of frigates such as three Shivalik (Project 17 class) and six Talwar class frigates. Seven additional Shivalik-class frigates (Project 17A class frigates) are on order.[100] The older Godavari class frigates will systematically be replaced one by one as the new classes of frigates are brought into service over the next decade. The last remaining Nilgiri class frigate was decommissioned on 27 June 2013.

Smaller littoral zone combatants in service are in the form of corvettes, of which the Indian Navy operates the Kora, Khukri, Veer and Abhay classes corvettes. The next-generation Kamorta class of corvettes are currently under development with the first commissioned in August 2014.

Replenishment tankers such as the Jyoti class tanker, the Aditya and the new Deepak class fleet tankers help improve the navy's endurance at sea. The Deepak class tankers will be the mainstay of the replenishment fleet until the first half of the 21st century.[101]


INS Chakra the nuclear attack submarine of the Indian Navy

The Indian Navy operates two types of conventional attack submarines; the Sindhughosh (Russian Kilo-class submarine design) and the Shishumar (German Type 209/1500 design) classes.

India also possess a single Akula-class submarine class nuclear-powered attack submarine named the INS Chakra. She is the result of a US$2 billion deal between India and Russia for the completion and lease of two Akula-class submarines to the Indian Navy.[102] Three hundred Indian Navy personnel were trained in Russia for the operation of these submarines. Negotiations underway with Russia for the lease of the second Akula-class.[103] At the end of the lease, it has been agreed that India will have the option to purchase the submarines outright.[104]

Arihant, was launched on 26 July 2009 in Visakhapatnam (India) and is currently undergoing sea trials.[105] The Navy plans to have six SSBN's in service in the near future.[106] She is both the first boat of the Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and the first nuclear-powered submarine to be built in India.[107]

Weapon systems

India has a number of foreign made cruise missile systems, including the Klub SS-N-27. It also has its own Nirbhay cruise missile systems under development. Another successful programme has been the adaptation of the Yakhont anti-ship missile system into the BrahMos by the NPO and the DRDO. The BrahMos has been tailored to Indian needs and uses a large proportion of Indian-designed components and technology, including its fire control systems, transporter erector launchers, and its onboard navigational attack systems. The successful test of Brahmos from INS Rajput (D51) provides Indian Navy with precision land attack capability.[108] India has also fitted its P-8I Neptune reconnaissance aircraft with all-weather, active-radar-homing, over-the-horizon AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes.[109] Indian warships' primary air-defence shield is provided by Barak-1 SAM while an advanced version Barak-8 is in development with join collaboration with Israel.[110] India's next-generation Scorpene class submarines will be armed with Exocet anti-ship missile system. Among indigenous missiles, ship-launched version of Prithvi-II is called Dhanush, which has a range of 350 km and can carry nuclear warheads.[111] The K-15 Sagarika (Oceanic) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which has a range of at least 700 km (some sources claim 1000 km) forms part of India's nuclear triad and is extensively tested to be integrated with Arihant class of nuclear submarines. A longer range submarine launched ballistic missile called K-4 is under testing, to be followed by K-5 SLBM.

Electronic warfare and systems management

Sangraha is a joint electronic warfare programme of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Navy. The system comprises a family of electronic warfare suites, such as Ajanta and Ellora, for use on different naval platforms capable of intercepting, detecting, and classifying pulsed, carrier wave, pulse repetition frequency agile, frequency agile and chirp radars. The systems employ a modular approach facilitating deployment on various platforms like helicopters, vehicles, and small ships. Certain platforms, apart from ESM (electronic support measures), have ECM (electronic countermeasure) capabilities. Advanced technologies like multiple-beam phased array jammers are employed in the system for simultaneous handling of multiple threats.[112]

The Indian Navy also relies on information technology to face the challenges of the 21st century. The Indian Navy is implementing a new strategy to move from a platform centric force to a network-centric force by linking all shore-based installations and ships via high-speed data networks and satellites.[113][114] This will help in increased operational awareness. The network is referred to as the Navy Enterprise Wide Network (NEWN). The Indian Navy has also provided training to all its personnel in Information Technology (IT) at the Naval Institute of Computer Applications (NICA) located in Mumbai. Information technology is also used to provide better training, like the usage of simulators and for better management of the force.[115]

Information technology cadre

With increasing cyber terrorism and attacks on its networks, the navy has created a separate cell for communications, space and network centric operations (CS&NCO) under an officer of the rank of Rear Admiral. The cell would operate and maintain the naval network and will respond to cyber attacks from hostile hackers. It will be manned by a special information technology cadre of the Indian Navy.[116]

Naval satellite

India's first exclusive defence satellite GSAT-7 was successfully launched by European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana in August, 2013, giving a major push to the country's maritime security. The Navy is the user of the multi-band home-built communication spacecraft, which has been operational since September 2013. GSAT-7 was designed and developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and is expected to operate for seven years in its orbital slot at 74 degrees east, providing UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band relay capacity. Its Ku-band capacity is expected to provide high-density data transmission facility, both for voice and video. This satellite has been provided with additional power to communicate with smaller and mobile (not necessarily land-based) terminals. This dedicated satellite is expected to provide the Indian navy with an approximately 3,500- to 4,000-kilometer footprint over the Indian Ocean region, and over both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal region and enable real-time networking of all its operational assets in the water (and land). It also will help the navy to operate in a network-centric atmosphere.[117]


Fleet reviews

The President of India is entitled to inspect his/her fleet, as he/she is the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The first president's fleet review by India was hosted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 10 October 1953. President's reviews usually take place once in the President's term. In all, ten fleet reviews have taken place, including in February 2006, when former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam took the review.[118] The latest, on 20 December 2011, when President Pratibha Patil set sail in a warship INS Subhadra (P51) to take the 10th Fleet Review.[119] The Indian Navy also conducted an International fleet review named Bridges of Friendship in February 2001 in Mumbai. Many ships of friendly Navies from all around the world participated, including two from the US Navy.[120][121] International fleet review (IFR) is scheduled to be hosted in Visakhapatnam in February 2016 where Indian Navy will focus on improving diplomatic relations and military compatibility with other nations.

Naval exercises

Naval ships from 17 nations Indian Ocean Naval Symposium participated in Milan 2014

India often conducts naval exercises with other friendly countries designed to increase naval interoperability and also to strengthen cooperative security relationship. Some such exercises take place annually like the Varuna with the French Navy, Konkan with the Royal Navy, Indra with Russian Navy, Malabar with the US Navy, Simbex[122] with the Republic of Singapore Navy and IBSAMAR[123] with the Brazil and South African navies.[124] The Indian Navy also conducted exercise with the People's Liberation Army Navy in 2003 and will send ships to the South China Sea to participate in the fleet review.[125] Apart from the Indian Ocean, India has steadily gained influence in the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, Indian Navy conducted naval exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and U.S Navy in the Pacific[126] and also signed an agreement with Japan in October 2008 for joint naval patrolling in the Asia-Pacific region.[127]

Indian and South Korean warships during a Korea-India exercise

India has also held naval exercise with Vietnam,[128] Philippines and New Zealand.[129] In 2007, India and South Korea decided to conduct annual naval exercise[130] and India participated in the South Korean international fleet review.[131] In addition, Indian Navy will also be increasing naval co-operation with other allies, particularly with Germany[132] and Arab states of the Persian Gulf including Kuwait, Oman,[133] Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.[134][135] India held the first Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)[136] with an objective to provide a forum for all the littoral nations of the Indian Ocean to co-operate on mutually agreed areas for better security in the region.[137] The Indian Navy is increasingly used in international diplomacy.[138] Since 2000, the Indian naval ships have made port calls in Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, South Africa,[139] Kenya,[140] Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait[141] and other countries in 2005–2007.

The first Atlantic Ocean deployment of the Indian Navy happened in 2009. During this deployment, the Indian Naval fleet conducted exercises with the French, German, Russian and British Navies.[142]

In 2007, the TROPEX (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercises) was held during which Indian Navy experimented the doctrine of influencing a land and air battle to support the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.[143] Tropex 2010 was held, with the Western and Eastern fleets taking part along with elements from the airforce.[144]

In 2010, Indian naval warships were deployed in the Asia pacific region, and conducted courtesy calls at friendly ports.[145] Recently, Indian Navy carried out a Joint Naval exercise with Sri Lanka Navy codenamed SLINEX-II from 19 to 24 September 2011. The exercise was aimed at increasing the capabilities of the two nations in carrying out anti-piracy operations and exchanging professional knowledge.[146] Once in two years navies from the Indian Ocean region meet at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the event is named as Milan.[147] MILAN included a passage exercise in 2010.[148]


The Indian Navy expedition to North Pole

The Indian Navy regularly conducts adventure expeditions. The sailing ship and training vessel INS Tarangini began circumnavigating the world on 23 January 2003, intending to foster good relations with various other nations; she returned to India in May of the following year after visiting 36 ports in 18 nations.[149] INS Tarangini returned to port, after a ten-month-long overseas voyage named Lokayan 07.[150] Lt. Cdr. M.S. Kohli led the Indian Navy's first successful expedition to Mount Everest in 1965; the Navy's ensign was again flown atop Everest on 19 May 2004 by a similar expedition. Another Navy team also successfully scaled Everest from the north face, the technically more challenging route.[151] The expedition was led by Cdr Satyabrata Dam, belonging to the elite submarine arm. Cdr. Dam is a mountaineer of international repute and has climbed many mountains including the Patagonias, the Alps among others. This team's record is unmatched by any other navy. The Navy was also the first to send a submariner to summit Everest.[152]

An Indian Navy team comprising 11 members successfully completed an expedition to the Arctic pole. To prepare, they first travelled to Iceland, where they attempted to summit a peak.[153] The team next flew to eastern Greenland; in the Kulusuk and Angmassalik areas, they used Inuit boats to navigate the region's ice-choked fjords. They crossed northward across the Arctic Circle, reaching seventy degrees North on skis. The team scaled an unnamed peak of height 11,000 feet (3,400 m) and named it ‘’Indian Peak’’.[154]

The Indian Naval ensign first flew in Antarctica in 1981.[155] The Indian Navy succeeded in Mission Dakshin Dhruv 2006 by traversing to the South Pole on skis. With this historic expedition, they have set the record for being the first military team to have successfully completed a ski traverse to the Geographic South Pole.[156] Also, three of the ten member team – the expedition leader – Cdr. Satyabrata Dam, leading medical assistants Rakesh Kumar and Vikas Kumar are now amongst the few people in the world to have visited the two poles and summited Mt. Everest.[157][158] Indian Navy became the first organisation to reach the poles and Mt.Everest.[159] Cdr. Dilip Donde completed the first solo circumnavigation by an Indian citizen on 22 May 2010.[160][161]

Future of the Indian Navy

INS Vikrant under construction
The HAL Tejas Naval Prototype-1 takes-off from the Shore Based Test Facility at Goa

By the end of the 14th Plan (2027), the Indian Navy expects to have over 150 ships and close to 500 aircraft and helicopters. In addition to the existing mission of securing both sea flanks in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea, the navy would be able to respond to emergency situations far away from the main land. Marine assault capabilities will be beefed-up by setting up a new amphibious warfare facility at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.[162]

The Indian Navy has initiated Phase II expansion of INS Kadamba, the third largest naval base, near Karwar. Phase II will involve expansion of the berthing facilities to accommodate 40 more front-line warships, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, raise manpower to 300 officers and around 2,500 sailors, and build a naval air station with a 6,000-foot runway. This is to be followed by Phase IIA and IIB, at the end of which INS Kadamba will be able to base 50 front-line warships. The Indian Navy is also in the process of constructing an Extremely low frequency communication facility at INS Kattabomman to communicate with its Arihant class and Akula class submarines. This facility is expected to be operational by 2015.[163]

The Vikrant-class are the first indigenous aircraft carriers to be built in India. The first, ''Vikrant, was launched in 2013 by Cochin Shipyard and is expected to undergo extensive sea trials in 2016 with commissioning planned for 2018. Vikrant displaces 40,000 tonnes and will be capable of operating up to 40 aircraft, including 30 HAL Tejas and MiG-29K fighters.[164] The second ship of the Vikrant-class is Vishal (formerly known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-II). Vishal will displace around 65,000 tonnes and is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy by 2025. With the future delivery of Vishal, the Indian Navys goal to have three aircraft carriers in service, with two fully operational carriers and the third in refit will be achieved.[165]

As of November 2011, the Defence Acquisition Council launched the Indian Navy Multi-Role Support Vessel programme. The Indian Navy has subsequently sent out an international RFP for up to 4 large landing helicopter docks. The contenders are expected to tie up with local shipyards for construction of the ships.[166]

In addition to aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ships, the Indian Navy is acquiring numerous surface combatants such as; the Kolkata and Visakhapatnam-class destroyers, the Project 17A-class frigates and the Kamorta-class corvettes. New submarine types include; the conventional Kalvari-class and the nuclear Arihant-class.

For details on the future aircraft of the Indian Navy, see Indian Naval Air Arm - Future aircraft


Accidents in the Indian navy have been attributed to ageing ships in need of maintenance, delayed acquisitions by the Ministry of Defence, and human error.[167] However naval commentators also argue that as India's large navy of 160 ships clocks around 12,000 ship-days at sea every year, in varied waters and weather, some incidents are inevitable.[168][169] Captains of erring ships are dismissed from their command following an enquiry.[170][171] The accident on board INS Sindhuratna (S59) led to the resignation of the then Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral D K Joshi on 26 February 2014, who owned moral responsibility.[172]

The navy is envisaging a new 'Safety Organisation' to improve safety of its warships, nuclear submarines and aircraft in view of its planned increase in fleet strength over the next decade.[173]

Indian Naval Ensign

The Indian navy from 1950 to 2001 used a modified version of the British Naval jack, with the Union flag replaced with the Indian Tricolor in the canton. In 2001, this flag was replaced with a white ensign bearing the Indian Navy crest, as the previous ensign was thought to reflect India's colonial past.[174] However complaints arose that the new ensign was indistinguishable as the blue of the naval crest easily merged with the sky and the ocean. Hence in 2004, the ensign was changed back to the St. George's cross design, with the addition of the emblem of India in the intersection of the cross. In 2014, the ensign as well as the naval crest was further modified to include the Devanagari script: सत्यमेव जयते (Satyameva Jayate) which means 'Truth Alone Triumphs' in Sanskrit.[175]

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