The Indian Navy is in talks with the Tamil Nadu
government and the Chennai Port Trust for expanding its naval base in the city
to boost its capabilities on the east coast as well as the Indian Ocean region.
The Navy has a base in Visakhapatnam on the eastern coast and the plans for
expanding in Chennai have been on the cards for some time now. The Chennai base
at present has eight ships and some fast interceptor boats.
“We aim to make an important naval base at
Chennai by creating the required naval support infrastructure. It is planning
to add more ships, helicopters, fixed wing aircrafts and expand its presence in
We are confident of complete support from the
State government for allotting the required land,” said Rear Admiral Alok
Bhatnagar, Flag Officer Commanding, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry Naval Area.
“This in turn will also contribute to the economy
of Chennai and Tamil Nadu in the long run,” he told reporters here at a
function held to commemorate Navy Day on December 4.
Rear Admiral Bhatnagar said they have asked for
land on the northern side of the Chennai port under the port’s Outer Harbor
Project that would handle various kinds of commodities. The space may be used
to dock the proposed second aircraft carrier along with fifty planes. The Indian
eastern naval command has no space at present to dock the aircraft carriers.
He said it was important for the navy to have an
operational base in the south to quickly respond to threats in the Indian
Extra-regional powers are operating in the Indian
Ocean region. Our two naval bases are in Mumbai and Vizag. We are well north of
the area of the Indian Ocean where we find these extra-regional powers. So it
is only logical to have the navy’s centre shifted towards the south so that we
can have our forces ready for quick reaction in the Indian Ocean region,” he
Rear Admiral Bhatnagar also said that the Indian
Navy was aware of increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region.
“The good part is that we are aware of it. We
know their movements in the region; we are observing cautiously,” he said.
Earlier reports said the navy is interested in setting up establishments near Point
Calimere in Central tamilnadu coast close to Sri Lanka and at Kanyakumari. The
Sri Lankan coast has become important in view of the increased Chinese presence
in Colombo port and takeover of Hambantota port right at the Southern tip of
Maritime sources however emphasized the
importance of revival of Sethusamdram ship canal project for free flow of naval
assets from west to East coast.