Ministry of Defence31-October, 2006 18:44 IST
Admiral Sureesh Mehta PVSM,AVSM,ADC takes over as Naval Chief
Admiral Sureesh Mehta, took over as the 19th Chief of the Naval Staff from Admiral Arun Prakash, who laid down office today after 40 years of distinguished service. In the morning, Admiral Mehta paid tribute to the country's martyrs by laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti and then inspected an impressive Guard of Honour at the lawns of South Block. Later, the outgoing Chief formally handed over the baton to Admiral Mehta in his office.

Interacting with the media on the sidelines of the 'taking over' ceremony, the new Navy Chief said that it was a great "priveledge and honour" to take command of such a fine service. Outlining his priorities as the new Naval Chief, he stated, "enhancement of maritime surveillance capability will be an area of immediate attention." He also stressed the need to augment connectivity between naval platforms in order to facilitate the exchange of real-time information, thus underlining the Navy's focus on network-centric operations. The Admiral brought out that with India's emergence as an economic power in the region, the "Indian Navy is poised to play a major role". Recalling the Navy's participation and contribution in the relief operations in the aftermath of tsunami in Dec 04, humanitarian assistance to earthquake victims in Indonesia, and, the recent evacuation of stranded civilians from war-torn Lebanon - not just Indian nationals, but also those from neighbouring countries, the Navy Chief said that we need ships with "longer legs - which can reach out and sustain themselves for long periods away from our shores". When asked how the induction of Vikramaditya and Trenton (being acquired from USA) would impact upon the Navy, Admiral Mehta stated that these inductions would "add different dimensions to the Navy's capability and enhance its ability to influence the battle on land". In his Navy wide message upon assuming charge, the new CNS said, "I look forward to your wholehearted support in pulling together in these exciting times so that the Navy can continue to Sail with Pride."

Admiral Sureesh Mehta was born on 18 Aug 1947. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the Indian Navy in July 1967. He is an aviator of the 'old mould', having joined the Fleet Air Arm early, and, has extensively operated from our earlier aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, flying the Sea Hawk jet aircraft. The CNS is a graduate of the prestigious Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, and the National Defence College, New Delhi. Included among his long list of earlier important afloat and ashore appointments are the command of the frigates INS Beas and INS Godavari, as also that of the premier Naval Air Station - INS Garuda.

Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1995, he has served as the Flag Officer Goa Area, the Assistant Controller Carrier Projects, and the Assistant Chief of Personnel. He commanded the Western Fleet, the 'sword arm' of the Indian Navy, during Operation Vijay. In the rank of Vice Admiral, his prestigious appointments include those of the Chief of Personnel, the Director General Coast Guard and the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff.

Just prior to his taking over the helm of the Navy, Admiral Mehta was the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC. During his tenure, the ENC was involved in numerous operational missions in the Bay of Bengal and South East Asia. He was responsible for the spectacularly successful 'President's Fleet Review', which was conducted for the first time ever on the eastern seaboard of the country in Feb 06, and which saw the participation of over 66 ships and 50 aircraft of the combined Indian Fleet.

VG/AK
(Release ID :21655)