The Indian Navy has appointed the first woman commanding officer in a naval ship in sync with its philosophy of 'all roles-all ranks' for female personnel, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said on Friday.
Addressing a press conference ahead of Navy Day, Admiral Kumar said the Indian Navy's ships, submarines, and aircraft have sustained a high operational tempo in the strategic waters in the last one year.
On China's increasing forays into the Indian Ocean, he said the Indian Navy monitors all activities in the region.
"Our ships, submarines, and aircraft have sustained a high operational tempo -- undertaking missions and tasks encompassing military, diplomatic, constabulary and benign roles," he said.
"Our units were deployed across the Indian Ocean Region and beyond, to protect and promote our national interests," he said.
Admiral Kumar said the Indian Navy has appointed the first woman commanding officer in a naval ship. However he did not provide further details.
Vice Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command, said in Mumbai that the Navy has put one woman officer in command of a small ship.
"That will be a game-changer," he said.
On the long-pending project to build a deck-based twin engine fighter aircraft, the Navy Chief hoped that his force would be able to get it by 2032.
"It will be built in India probably by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Specifications have been already prepared. We would take up the case with the government for development of the aircraft," he said.
"We hope by 2032 onwards, we will be able to get this twin engine deck-based aircraft for operations from our (aircraft) carrier," he said.
On new Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu calling for withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the Maldives, the Chief of Naval Staff did not give a direct reply and said both countries have strong defence ties.
"We have very very strong cooperation with Maldives. We have some assets deployed there. We have been assisting them in many ways. Over the last five years, we have helped them in over 500 medical evacuations, saving lives.
"We are helping them keep their maritime areas under surveillance to prevent illegal activities. We have very close cooperation in terms of training and other activities," he said.
"Whether we will scale down the number of personnel, that will be a decision by the two governments and whatever instructions are given, we will follow them," Admiral Kumar said.
On Navy's overall approach, he said the Navy has "remained a 'Combat-ready, Credible, Cohesive, and Future Proof' force enabled by what we call our 'ships first' outlook where every single action that we take is aimed to enable our women and men in operational units to perform their duties very well."
On the operational front, the Navy's sheer footprint of deployments has been satisfying as its ships have been persistently present across the Indo Pacific, he said.
The Navy Chief said adequate attention is being given on human resource management in the Navy.
"A critical aspect related to capability accretion, is human resource development. Towards this end, implementation of Agnipath has been a much-needed transformational change," he said.
The Navy Chief said the first batch of Agniveers graduated from the premier training establishment INS Chilka in March.
"Importantly, this batch of Agniveers included 272 women trainees and going further, the present batch of Agniveers has a total of 454 women," he said.
"With the third batch of Agniveers joining at INS Chilka, the overall strength of women Agniveers has now crossed the 1,000 mark. These statistics stand testament to our philosophy of 'all roles, all ranks' approach to deployment of women in the service for both officers and personnel below officers ranks," he said.
To a question on whether women can be deployed in submarines, the Navy Chief said 'we have no restrictions on anyone joining any arm'.