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September 15, 2000
Navy plans international fleet review
Our correspondent in Bombay
The India Navy will for the first time host the International Fleet Review 2001 from February 15 to February 20, 2001, in which warships from 22 maritime nations will participate, to commemorate the 50th year of India's Republic.
This was announced by Vice Admiral Madhvendra Singh, flag officer commanding-in-chief, western naval command in Bombay on Friday.
"Its theme will be Bridges of Friendship," said Singh, adding that it was to show that the Navy was not an instrument of war only, but also played a major role in diplomacy during peace times.
The navy has invited 62 countries; 22 have confirmed participation. The major among them are United Kingdom, United States of America, Russia, Japan and Australia.
"We are expecting confirmation from China, South Korea, Belgium, Israel and New Zealand," added Singh.
The navy is expecting 80 ships, including 25 from India. They will be lined up between Radio Club and Lions Gate, in seven parallel series, depending on the ships' sizes. The smaller ones will be in the shallow waters.
The five-day extravaganza will include a band performance, international seminars on Matters Maritime, a band concert and sports fixtures, where foreign and Indian teams will compete in golf, football, basketball, cricket, yachting and squash.
President K R Narayanan, Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Defence Minister George Fernandes will attend the function.
Narayanan is expected to watch the display from the Sukanya yacht, from the Gateway of India.
A commemorative stamp will be released by Vajpayee on the occasion.
There will also be a flypast at Marine Drive for the public.
Singh said the cost of the exercise would be anywhere between Rs 20-30 million, sanctioned by the Government of India.
He said Pakistan had not been invited.
He ruled out joint exercises with any country as they would be here for only six days.
On whether the Indo-Vietnam joint exercise was scuttled following Chinese pressure, he said, "I am not aware about that. But nobody can exert pressure on us if we feel that we want to go in for a joint exercise."
I N S Mysore was part of group in the United States this year, for an international maritime operation. Besides, India has participated in shows in Indonesia and South Africa.
On the status of the Viraat, he said, "It is one of the largest modernisation projects. There are some hiccups but I am sure she will be on the review line by the middle of next year.''
On I N S Vikrant, he said, "The navy is a partner with the Maharashtra government. But it is up to the government to decide. It will be based at the south of Sassoon Dock, opposite the BPT garden. Tata Consultancy Service is doing a feasibility study and a report is expected at the end of the month."
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