"Rule, Britannia! Rule the waves:
"Britons never will be slaves."
These are the lines from the famous Britain patriotic song “Rule Britannia” written by James Thomson. These lines depict the heights of British Naval Supremacy from 18th century to early 20th century. For the nations aspires to become a superpower, these lines teach the importance of the control of sea.
Importance of navy and its capabilities, even after modern infantry and air force, had been tested in World War-II. The Germans possessed the highly trained ground forces and most advanced Air Force in the World. But the absence of strong German Navy led to the Germans to cancel their Invasion of Britain plans and invaded Russia and thus changed the course of World War – II.
All along the history, Command of the sea seems to be the most powerful weapon countries possess. From 18th to 20th Century, the Royal Navy was so powerful that their sea trade was never been challenged and gave fortunes to the Britain Empire including the crown jewel “India”. US President showed the world the Americans blue-water capabilities in the Great White Fleet – a 16 battleships 14 months circumnavigation around the World. During World War-II, US Navy becomes the only Navy which can challenge the ambitions of the mighty Imperial Japanese Navy. This led the Japanese to attack the Pearl Harbor which lead to a standoff between the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy to conduct the World’s deadliest and the largest battle ever in the sea. At the end of the World War-II, US not only emerged victorious but operated 70% of the world’s combat fleets. Even today, the US Army and the Air Force can be challenged but not the navy. In terms of tonnage, US Navy is bigger than the next 13 nation’s navy combined.
The reason the Americans able to act as the Global Policeman is not only because of their economic capabilities but also their ability to project their power anywhere in this world. For a nation which aspire to become a Super Power, these are the lessons need to be learn from the history. India is not an exception, in fact, India's greatest military victory, India-Pakistan War of 1971 would not been possible without the use of Indian Navy which isolated East Pakistan (Bangladesh) from West Pakistan (Pakistan). But the speed at which the naval fleets modernized is not upto the expectation.
Indian navy stands at 4th place with 175 ships. It might seem impressive but many ships become obsolete and need replacement. India is currently undergoing 15 year ship building program with 46 ships to be added to the Navy in the next 5 years alone. But these programs are very much affected by the delays and cost over-runs. For example, the induction of Russian built aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is already delayed by more than 4 years and the costs escalated from $800 million to $2.35 billion. Similarly the induction of the indigenous Vikrant class aircraft carrier faces delays and will not be inducted before 2014. These delays not only compromise the navy capabilities but might even become a threat to the national security in event of a war. With China increasing its ground and see assets rapidly, India is not even in a position to defend its existing capabilities.
India’s submarine division is pathetic. Its submarine fleet consists of 14 diesel submarines and a lone leased nuclear attack submarine from Russia. The last newly built submarine inducted 12 years before and the induction process of the Scorpene class submarines had been delayed to mid-2015. The only fruitful news from the submarine division is the successful launch of nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant which is currently undergoing sea-trials and slated to join the navy in 2013. With submarines becoming obsolete, the government pays little attention to tackle this crisis.
The ability to built indigenous ballistic submarines is really to be appreciated but simply neglecting the importance of nuclear attack submarines (SSN) and jumping to nuclear ballistic missle submarines (SSBN) is not something to be appreciated.
The point not to be forget is China’s strong attack submarines consists of 52 conventional and 6 nuclear submarines which is in no way comparable to India’s 14 old diesel submarines.
With India aspires to control a sea which carries 40% of world’s ‘offshore oil production, the importance of navy is never been so important than now.
Posted by Vinoth Kumar K. Posted In : Navy