Recently, on the occasion of Navy Day, on September 2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the Indian Navy’s second and first-ever indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. At the same time, the issue also caught fire in the media that the Indian Navy also needed a third aircraft carrier. Before this, many senior navy personnel, including retired ones, had also told the Indian Navy about the need for three aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, the discussion also increased that instead of wasting money on 3rd aircraft carrier, its 2 islands Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar should be developed as a Navy base.
So today we will discuss what are the naval bases on Andaman and Nicobar Islands, what are their capabilities and roles.
But before this, we should know about
Andaman and Nicobar Command
Andaman and Nicobar command is the first & only tri-service theatre command of the Indian armed forces. It is located at Port Blair, the capital city of A&N islands, union territory of India. The Andaman and Nicobar islands are situated in the Andaman sea, in front of the Malacca strait, spread the south till Sumatra island of Indonesia.
The government of India created the Andaman and Nicobar command in 2001 to safeguard its security and strategic importance in Southeast Asia.
The tri-service command has 4 components: Army; Navy; Airforce; Coast guard. These all components are commanded under a single 3-star officer. And further, this officer reports directly to the Chief of defense staff (CDS) or Chief of staff committee (COSC). Currently, Lieutenant General; Ajai Singh, AVSM is the Commander-in-Chief of Andaman and Nicobar Command.
The A&N command operates 7 military bases, of which 2 are full-fledged airforce bases 2 are naval air stations for administrative and logistic support, and the remaining 3 are Naval bases or air stations.
Naval Bases in Andaman and Nicobar command
There are 3 full-fledged Naval air stations that are used for military purposes. A naval air station is actually a naval base with permanent land-based operations locations for the military aviation division of the relevant branch of a navy (Naval aviation).
1. INS Utkrosh
INS Utkrosh is a naval air station located near INS Jarawa. It was initially commissioned in march 1984 as INS Jarawa 2: But in may 1985 the air station was formally commissioned as INS Utkrosh, the first naval air station in A&N islands.
INS Utkrosh has a 3,290-meter long asphalt-made runway that shares airside facilities with Veer Savarkar International Port.
There have been 3 air squadrons based at INS Utkrosh that include:
- A surveillance squadron INAS 318 operating Dornier 228 aircraft;
- INAS 321 operating HAL Chetak helicopters;
- A training squadron operating Pipistrel Alpha trainer aircraft.
To protect maritime interests in the bay of Bengal, its location makes it an important strategic station. To perform humanitarian operations of medical emergencies it’s also an important facility. In the future, The jetty will be expanded for aircraft carriers and large warships with the creation of naval ammunition depots.
2. INS Kohassa
INS Kohassa naval air station was established at Shibpur village of North Andaman islands. It was commissioned as a forward operating air base (FOAB) in 2001 as NAS Shibpur. The close proximity of Coco Islands (Myanmar) and the wide expanse of the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) increase its importance. Currently, the Navy and Coast guard operate their Dornier 228 aircraft and HAL Chetak helicopter in Shibpur once a week for surveillance of the North Andaman islands. These aircraft initiate EEZ reconnaissance, Anti-smuggling Missions, Search and Rescue and Humanitarian Aid, and Disaster Relief operations within the ANC Area of Responsibility.
In addition, Every Thursday Dornier aircraft of the airforce arrives to deliver couriers from port Blair to Diglipur, the parent city (Tahsil) of Shibpur village.
Presently, the runway length would be extended from 1006 meters to 3,000 meters after acquiring the 100-hectare land. After this, it will be able to operate wide-bodied civil and defense aircraft and a night landing facility also will be developed. In 2019, after the extension of facilities, it was renamed from NAS Shibpur to INS Kohassa. The name INS Kohasa is derived from the White-Bellied Sea Eagle, a local bird of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
In the future upgradation plan, New ammunition dumps and capacity will upgrade for fighter jets and bigger planes like long-range maritime reconnaissance Boeing P-8I and anti-submarine aircraft.
3. INS Baaz
INS Baaz is a newly developed naval air station under Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC). It is the southmost air station of A&N Command situated on the Great Nicobar islands, near Campbell bay. It was commissioned in July 2012 and became the first air station in the Nicobar islands.
There is a 1,100-meter-long runway where the Indian Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft can also land. To improve the civil administration, regular inter-Island flights operate from here. In addition, The Naval air station will provide the required logistic, communication, and administrative support for different aircraft undertaking surveillance, patrolling missions, and maritime air operations.
Moreover, The geo-strategically located Air Station, INS Baaz, overlooks vital International Sea roots passing through the Indian Ocean Region. The Airbase supports operations of many military aircraft, which enable surveillance over the Southern Bay of Bengal, South Andaman Sea, Malacca Straits, and the Southern Indian Ocean. A new ammunition dump will be built. And fighter jets and larger aircraft such as the long-range maritime reconnaissance Boeing P-8I and anti-submarine aircraft will be transferred.
In conclusion, to know more about the strategic importance of the Andaman and Nicobar islands for Indian read this- Andaman & Nicobar Island- Trump Card Of An Estate For India