The first biannual Naval Commander’s Conference of 2018 concluded on May 11, 2018 after four days of intense deliberations on a wide range of issues.
The conference was inaugurated by Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who set the tone for the deliberations stating that the Indian Navy is a force to reckon with in the Indo-Pacific region.
Sitharaman also assured the Naval Commanders that their endeavours to bridge critical capability gaps in ship-borne helicopters, fleet support ships and submarines would be progressed by the Government. The Minister also extended support to the long-term capability acquisition plans of the navy that have been formulated with a strategic view of the Indo-Pacific region.
• During the conference, there were deliberations upon the imperative need for approval of the second indigenous aircraft carrier for the navy.
• This project along with the other shipbuilding projects already underway or in the pipeline including Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs), Landing Platform Dock (LPD), Anti-Submarine Shallow Water Craft, Diving Support Vessels and Survey Vessels are expected to boost the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative of the Union Government.
• The major shipbuilding projects in Indian shipyards including both private and public result in the creation of jobs. They also provide encouragement to MSMEs to develop indigenous technologies and manufacturing units in support of them.
• The conference also undertook a review of the Navy's mission-based deployments. The review was aimed at maximising benefits accumulated from the deployment of Indian naval ships and aircraft to critical areas within the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR).
• Measures such as information sharing with other naval forces as well as combining defence diplomacy initiatives such as bi-lateral exercises and port visits into these deployments are planned to be undertaken.
Besides, the Navy's new transition cycle for ships from maintenance to operations was also reviewed by the Commanders. This has resulted in considerable improvement in combat efficiency and crew proficiency of ships undergoing the new transition cycle. The new transition cycle has also resulted in the overall improvement of op logistics, spares management and forecasting, refit planning and expenditure management.
• The conference also saw the inauguration of a new digital library for knowledge management and retrieval including archiving of critical data and information.
• This was complemented by deliberations on the security and hardening of naval data networks in keeping with contemporary cyber security practices.
• Concrete plans to incorporate big data analytics and artificial intelligence into the Navy's operational functioning have also been formulated.
• The next edition of the Naval Commander’s Conference will take place at the end of 2018, in October or November.