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India replies to Chinese media criticism of navy

Quoting a military expert, who sounded triumphant about “accurately predicting” that fires could breakout on INS Vikramaditya, the article said the error-prone Indian Navy had failed to learn its lessons.

india Updated: May 01, 2019 07:45 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Indian Navy,Chinese media,INS Vikramaditya
Indian Navy personnel are unprofessional, prone to errors and unprepared to tackle emergencies, a Chinese state media article has said. (Representative Image/Photo courtesy: MoD spokesperson twitter handle)

Indian Navy personnel are unprofessional, prone to errors and unprepared to tackle emergencies, a Chinese state media article has said, commenting on a fire that claimed the life of a naval officer on India’s aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, last week.

In its response, the Indian Navy said it “prides itself on the highest level of professionalism it maintains while operating a variety of high performance platforms on the frontline, ranging from aircraft carrier groups to nuclear submarines”. Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said the strength of the navy “also comes from its ability to identify the right lessons from incidents and accidents and put in place correctives that make it emerge better prepared to operate in the demanding and hazardous environment in which it deploys very extensively”.

Quoting a military expert, who sounded triumphant about “accurately predicting” that fires could breakout on INS Vikramaditya, the article said the error-prone Indian Navy had failed to learn its lessons.

It was published within days of the Indian Navy sending two of its frontline ships, including the destroyer INS Kolkata, to attend the maritime parade to mark the 70th anniversary of People’s Liberation Army-Navy’s (PLAN) off the coast of Qingdao in eastern China. The two Indian vessels were among the handful of warships to attend the parade. A fire broke out on board aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on Friday morning and officer, Lt. Cdr. D.S. Chauhan, lost his life in the firefighting efforts, the Navy said in a statement. “The fire was brought under control by the ship’s crew in a swift action preventing any serious damage affecting the ship’s combat capability,” the navy said in a statement.

Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times that the fire was more likely to be out of human error rather than mechanical problems. “The fire and the extinguishing process suggested that they are unprofessional and unprepared to address such an emergency,” he said.

India has been actively developing its military in recent years, but “it’s military culture is lax and it has loose regulations”, which cannot effectively train soldiers to operate advanced military equipment, Li was quoted as saying.

Li noted that the Indian Navy’s lax regulations mean sailors may neglect or fail to obey the rules on handling advanced equipment. Unlike in India where both the armed forces and media are relatively more open, the PLA and China’s controlled state media are said to tightly control the flow of information about the military — especially mishaps in military.

Navy spokesperson Captain Sharma said, “Its [Indian Navy’s] operational interactions with an increasing number of leading maritime forces in the world is testimony to its standing as a highly competent and trained force that collaborates widely to enhance regional security. Its training infrastructure and processes have been acknowledged in the region as being of the highest standards...The recent and unfortunate incident of a loss of an officer on a frontline ship will be viewed by the IN [Indian Navy] along these lines and the service will take all steps to emerge stronger from it.”

First Published: May 01, 2019 07:42 IST