Indian Navy Commissions INS Jatayu

The Indian Navy has taken a significant step towards enhancing its operational capabilities and maritime domain awareness in the strategically important Lakshadweep islands with the commissioning of INS Jatayu at Minicoy Island on March 6, 2024. The new naval base, named after the mythical creature in the Ramayana, will serve as a vital asset for the Navy in the region.

Commissioning Ceremony

The commissioning ceremony was attended by Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Shri Praful K Patel, Hon’ble Administrator of Lakshadweep, Vice Admiral V Srinivas, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOCINC), Southern Naval Command (SNC), and other senior naval officers and distinguished guests. The ceremony included a 50-man Guard of Honour for the CNS, the reading of the commissioning warrant, and the hoisting of the Naval Ensign.

Strategic Importance

INS Jatayu, located on Minicoy, the southernmost island of Lakshadweep, straddles vital sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and will act as the eyes and ears for India in the region. The base will enable the Navy to have complete maritime operations capability, similar to INS Baaz located on the east coast of India in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The commissioning of INS Jatayu is part of a larger plan to establish full-fledged military capability in Lakshadweep.

Expansion and Upgrades

The Naval Detachment Minicoy, set up in the early 1980s, will be converted into a full-fledged naval base in due course of time. More officers will be deployed to the new base, and radar stations will be set up to enable seamless oversight of the waters around the island. The government is also in the final stages of approving a new airport on Minicoy for both military and civilian use, which will cater to fighter jets and transport aircraft. Additionally, a 24-hour operational chopper hangar has been cleared at Kavaratti to boost connectivity.

Addressing Maritime Challenges

The commissioning of INS Jatayu comes at a time when India faces various maritime challenges, such as piracy and increasing Chinese forays into the Indian Ocean. Chinese submarines and research vessels have been operating in the region, and China has been cooperating closely with Maldives. The new base, located just 130 km from Thuraakunu, the northernmost island of Maldives, will help India monitor and respond to these challenges more effectively.

Strengthening Regional Cooperation

India has been focusing on improving its capabilities in the Indian Ocean and has also been assisting friendly countries in capacity building. In February 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth inaugurated a new airstrip, the St. James Jetty, and six community development projects at Mauritius’ Agalega Island, all funded by India. Such initiatives demonstrate India’s commitment to strengthening regional cooperation and security.

 


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