President Pranab Mukherjee inspected one of the largest maritime events in the recent past, as International Fleet Review 2016 (IFR 2016) took place off the Visakhapatnam coast on 06.02.2016. Close to 75 Indian warships and 24 from Navies across the globe sailed past the Presidential yacht- INS Sumitra, that, besides Mukherjee hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, three service chiefs besides others.
Amongst the Indian platforms that paraded in front of the high profile delegation off the east coast was INS Vikramaditya- India’s biggest aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, destroyers INS Kolkata, Mysore, frigates- Shivalik, Satpura, Teg amongst others.
President Mukherjee watched as the Navy’s surface, sub surface and aerial platforms performed breathtaking maneuvers off Visakhapatnam’s famous Rama Krishna beach. The Naval helicopters Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, Chetaks performed Search and Rescue missions even as the latest acquisition P- 8i maritime reconnaissance aircraft flew past the Presidential yacht. The Hawk and Mig- 29 K aircraft too displayed breathtaking maneuvers- displaying the skills of the Naval warriors to operate their fighter jets at a pressure six times the gravitational force. Sailors on board the vessels saluted the Presidential yacht and waved their berrets in a gesture to acknowledge the reviewing by the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Amongst international platforms that paraded in front of the President were platforms from Bangladesh, China, US, Australia, Mauritius, Oman, UK, Vietnam besides others. All major navies including those from the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK participated in the event. The foreign ships included United States' USS Antietam, a guided missile corvette, HMS Defender of UK, JS Matsuyuki of Japan, IRIS Alvand of Iran, BNS Somudra Joy from Bangladesh, Liuzhou from China, and HMAS Darwin from Australia.
Close to 4000 sailors participated in the fleet review- perceived to be the biggest so far in India. The first international review had taken place in 2001 in which navies of 29 countries from across the globe had participated.
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu arrived on February 5 and laid a wreath at the Victory-at-Sea memorial on the Vizag beach to pay homage to the martyrs. He later inaugurated the IFR village and the maritime exhibition organised by the Navy on the grounds of the Andhra University Engineering College. He said Visakhapatnam was the eastern gateway to the country. A band concert by foreign naval bands was followed by a Presidential Banquet on the evening of February 6. Other events to follow include an International maritime Conference and an International City parade for public.
The International Fleet Review 2016 has culminated with Indian and foreign naval ships undertaking a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) in the Bay of Bengal.
All the 54 ships that had participated in IFR-16 sailed out from Visakhapatnam in the first ever Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with combined participation of foreign and Indian warships yesterday.
The IFR 2016 was conducted from February 4-8.
As per the maritime traditions, visiting foreign ships are generally escorted to the open seas on their way home (on completion of the visit).
The PASSEX was aimed at fostering greater cooperation and camaraderie with friendly foreign navies, increasing interoperability, providing the requisite operational element to IFR as also to mark the culmination of IFR 16, an event that saw the largest scale participation of foreign ships ever in a Fleet Review in India.