Hours after the government announced Admiral Robin Dhowan as the new navy chief, Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha on Thursday applied for voluntary retirement after being passed over for the top job.
Sinha, who is six months senior to Dhowan, has not given any reasons for seeking early retirement. Sinha was to retire on August 31, 2014.
However, in spite of being the senior-most, Sinha has been superseded by the government since some of the worst naval accidents occurred under his watch, including the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak that killed 18 sailors on August 14, 2013 and the INS Sindhuratna mishap that killed two officers on February 26, 2014.
The government named Dhowan as chief 51 days after DK Joshi resigned taking moral responsibility for a rash of recent accidents.
HT was the first to report that Dhowan, who served as the acting chief in the interim period, was the frontrunner for the job. The new chief is a skilled yachtsman and loves his golf. A thorough professional, the 59-year-old admiral is equally known for being suave and stylish.
Commissioned on January 1, 1975, he is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Defence Services Staff College and US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. A navigation and direction specialist, Dhowan will serve as the chief till May 31, 2016.
Soon after taking over, Dhowan said the navy would take measures to ensure that mishaps didn't take place and personnel followed rules without resorting to shortcuts that could lead to accidents.
He said, "We have effective safety audits and strict procedures in place to ensure that accidents don't happen."
Dhowan has served as the naval adviser at the High Commission of India in London, headed the Eastern Fleet, commanded the NDA and held the post of deputy chief of naval staff.
His elevation has changed the naval hierarchy. National Defence College commandant Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba may now succeed Dhowan. Had Joshi not stepped down, he would have been replaced by Vice Admiral Satish Soni in August 2015.