The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India serves as Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the navy. The Indian Navy is the fifth largest in the world. It played an important role in India’s victory in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
The Indian Navy can trace its lineage back to the East India Company’s Marine which was founded in 1612 to protect British merchant shipping in the region. In 1793 the East India Company established its rule over eastern part of the Indian subcontinent i.e. Bengal, but it was not until 1830 that the colonial navy became known as Her Majesty’s Indian Navy. In 1858, East India Company rule gave way to the British Raj which lasted until India became independent in 1947. When India became a republic in 1950, the Royal Indian Navy as it had been named since 1934 was renamed to Indian Navy. The 17th-century Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is considered as the ‘Father of the Indian Navy’.
The primary objective of the navy is to secure the nation’s maritime borders; India also uses its navy to enhance its international relations through joint exercises, port visits and humanitarian missions, including disaster relief. In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone rapid modernisation to replace its ageing equipment currently in service, this is often seen as part of “India’s drive” to develop blue-water capabilities and enhance its position in the Indian Ocean region.
As of 2016, the Indian Navy has a strength of 79,023 personnel and a large operational fleet consisting of two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, eight landing ship tanks, 11 destroyers, 14 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, one ballistic missile submarine, 13 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 24 corvettes, six mine countermeasure vessels, 27 patrol vessels, four fleet tankers and various other auxiliary vessels.
The Indian Navy operates three Commands. Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the rank of Vice Admiral. The Eastern and Western Commands each have a Fleet commanded by a rear admiral, and each also have a Commodore commanding submarines. The Southern Naval Command is home to the Flag Officer Sea Training.
Additionally, the Andaman and Nicobar Command headquartered at Port Blair is a unified tri-services command under the Commander in Chief Andaman and Nicobar (CINCAN) who reports to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) who is provided staff support by the Chief of Integrated Staff to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) in New Delhi. The Andaman and Nicobar Command, a unified Indian Navy, Indian Army Indian Air Force and Coast Guard Command was set up in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2001.