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Prez to get glimpse of maritime power

President Pratibha Patil will get a glimpse of the country’s maritime power when she boards the presidential yacht, INS Subhadra, off the Mumbai coast next week to undertake a review of the naval fleet, a tradition that Dr Rajendra Prasad began in 1953.

delhi Updated: Dec 15, 2011 00:58 IST
HT Correspondent

President Pratibha Patil will get a glimpse of the country’s maritime power when she boards the presidential yacht, INS Subhadra, off the Mumbai coast next week to undertake a review of the naval fleet, a tradition that Dr Rajendra Prasad began in 1953.

Patil, the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, will review the fleet on December 20 in a spit-and-polish ceremony to be attended by defence minister AK Antony, navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, army chief General VK Singh and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne.

Every President reviews the naval fleet once during his or her tenure. Patil will be the woman President to do so. A flotilla of 81 ships and 44 aircraft will take part in the parade, which will begin with Patil being presented a guard of honour and a 21-gun salute.

The warships taking part in the Presidential Fleet Review (PFR) include India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Viraat, frontline destroyers, stealth frigates, submarines, amphibious assault vessels, tankers and missile boats. The highlight of the air component will be the newly inducted MiG-29K maritime fighters.

Patil will be the 9th Indian President to review the naval fleet in a two-and-half-hour ceremony at the Mumbai harbour. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam reviewed the fleet in February 2006 off India’s eastern coast.

Only three Presidents --- Dr Zakir Hussain, N Sanjiva Reddy and Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma ---did not review the fleet during their tenures. The Shah of Iran and then defence minister YB Chavan reviewed the fleet in 1956 and 1964, respectively --- the only two instances when the honour went to individuals who were not President.

Patil will release a PFR commemorative stamp and also inaugurate a maritime heritage exhibition.