The chief of navy’s Mumbai-based elite western fleet has been read the riot act and asked to explain a series of recent mishaps involving warships that have blemished the navy’s safety record under his watch.
In a rare action against an officer of his rank, Rear Admiral Anil Chawla, who heads the crucial naval formation, was summoned by the Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha and made to report in a ceremonial uniform, called “dress no.2” in naval parlance, which signifies displeasure on part of his superiors, sources confirmed to HT.
“When someone is asked to report in dress no.2, it is connected with censure. It is uncommon for two-star admirals to be paraded this way, unless the matter is grave,” a retired vice admiral said.
Ordinarily, officers posted in Mumbai wear a working dress called No.8A.
The navy is tightening the screws on officers who have been held responsible for the lack of adequate supervision and non-compliance with naval procedure.
The captains of two frontline warships, INS Talwar and INS Betwa, were stripped of their positions this month, with the navy blaming them for disturbing lapses that led to accidents under their command, as first reported by HT on January 26.
Seven accidents have been reported after India’s Russian-built submarine INS Sindhurakshak blew up and sank at a Mumbai harbour last August, killing all 18 men onboard and dealing a severe blow to the navy’s fast deteriorating underwater force levels.
INS Talwar infamously slammed into a trawler off the Ratnagiri coast on December 23, sinking the boat and tossing 27 fishermen into the sea. Barely two weeks later, INS Betwa, a guided missile frigate, ran aground near the Mumbai naval base on January 4, damaging critical equipment.