A Special Significance
The President’s fleet review, an awe-inspiring and much-awaited event, was conducted at Visakhapatnam, February 21, 22. This is the twelfth fleet review and has a special significance that it is being conducted on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of India's Independence celebrated as 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' across the nation. A fleet review is usually conducted once during the tenure of the President.
India's maritime defence might was on full display as President Ram Nath Kovind conducted the Fleet Review off the Visakhapatnam coast in Bay of Bengal. Sailing on the indigenously designed Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel INS Sumitra, designated as the Presidential Yacht, Kovind sailed past 44 ships anchored in four columns in the Bay of Bengal and received the ceremonial salute from each of them. The crew of each ship presented a salute with the traditional 'Three Jais', a symbolic act called "Man and Cheer Ship," in a demonstration of the unconditional allegiance of Navy personnel to the country and the Supreme Commander. The President's Fleet Review 2022 provided an insight into the Indian fleet's strength, capability and also the unity of purpose.
In simplest terms, it is the country’s President taking stock of the Navy’s capability. It showcases all types of ships and capabilities the Navy has. It takes place once under every President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces. The President is taken on one of the Naval ships, which is called the President’s Yacht, to look at all the ships docked on one of the Naval ports. According to a statement by the Navy, the President’s Yacht this year “is an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel, INS Sumitra, which will lead the Presidential Column. The yacht will be distinguished by the Ashoka Emblem on her side and will fly the President’s Standard on the Mast. The theme of the President's Fleet Review-2022 was 'Indian Navy.
There have been 11 President’s Fleet Reviews since Independence. The first was conducted in 1953, under Dr Rajendra Prasad. The next one was done not by the President but by the then Defence Minister, Y B Chavan, in 1964. Since then, it has been the President reviewing the fleet. The longest gap between reviews was of 12 years — between 1989 (President R Venkatraman) and when 2001 (President K R Narayanan). The last one was done in 2016, under President Pranab Mukherjee. The reviews in 2001 and 2016 were International Fleet Reviews, in which some vessels from other countries also participated. The Indian Navy too has participated in international fleet reviews in other countries, including Australia, America, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and the UK. In 1953, 25 warships, seven yard craft and one merchant ship had participated. In 1964, the number rose to 31 warships, nine merchant ships and 12 yard craft. Two years later, under President S Radhakrishnan, India’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was part of the review.
The Navy noted that the last decade has witnessed India's dependence on maritime environment expanding substantially as its economic, military and technological strength grew, global interactions widened and the national security imperatives and political interests stretched gradually beyond the Indian Ocean Region.
"There seems little doubt that the 21st century will be the 'Century of the Seas' for India and that the seas will remain a key enabler in its global resurgence.
It is one of the most important events for the Navy, which is essentially showing its allegiance and commitment to defending the country. It is a long-standing tradition followed by navies across the world, and according to Navy officials it is a strong bond that links seafarers of the world. Historically, a Fleet Review is an assembly of ships at a pre-designated place for the purpose of displaying loyalty and allegiance to the Sovereign and the state. In turn, the Sovereign, by reviewing the ships, reaffirms his faith in the fleet and its ability to defend the nation’s maritime interest. The review was perhaps conceived as a show of naval might. Though it still has the same connotation, assembling of warships without any belligerent intentions is now the norm in modern times.
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