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Indian Navy wants a full-fledged base near Chennai

Indian Navy is in talks with the Tamil Nadu government to acquire land for setting up a full-fledged naval base near Chennai on par with the set up at Visakhapatnam, Vice Admiral H C S Bist Flag Officer of Eastern Naval command said.

Vice Admiral Bist was talking to newsmen on board the INS Chennai a P 15A guided missile destroyer of the Navy which arrived at the Chennai port two days ago.

"Situation in the area warrants the expansion of the Indian Navy at Chennai. The naval establishment in Chennai needs to be upgraded on par with Visakhapatnan which is serving as the headquarters of the Eastern Naval command. We have already started the talks with the state government for acquiring land for upgrading the set up at Chennai" Vice Admiral Bisht told newspersons.

Naval sources attribute the Navy's decision to upgrade the set up in Chennai to increased Chinese presence in Sri Lanka including the ongoing negotiations two Chinese firms are holding with the Sri Lankan government for takeover of Hambantota port near Colombo. Chinese firms already have lot of stakes in Colombo port. Two years ago, alarm was raised when a Chinese nuclear submarine berthed at Hambantota port in an unannounced visit.

Indian Navy has its air station set up at Arakonam about 40 kilometers west of Chennai to monitor movement of aircraft in the Bay of Bengal.

INS Chennai which was berthed in Chennai port received a stream of visitors including Tamil Nadu Governor Vidya Sagar Rao, Chief Minister K Palaniswamy, senior bureaucrats of both state and central governments besides the media.

A Postal stamp was released by the Governor Rao to mark the visit of the ship to Chennai port.

Speaking on the occasion Chief Minister Palaniswamy urged the Navy to provide protection to Indian fishermen fishing in their traditional areas adjoining the Palk straits from attacks by the Lankan naval personnel. The fishermen should be allowed to carry out their traditional occupation without fear of being attacked.

Addressing the gathering Vice Admiral Bisht spoke of the maritime heritage of the Tamils including Raja Chola who extended his kingdom to south East Asia. The Temple AT Akorwat stands testimony to his achievement in maritime warfare thousand years ago.

He also recalled the role of the ship HIMS Madras during the Second World War. To commemorate the ship's feat the Indian navy's guided missile destroyer was named after Chennai he said.

Capt Pravin Nair said the sophisticated Brahmos missles could be launched from this ship. It can also take on submarines.


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