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New chief for navy

New Delhi, April 17: Admiral Robin K. Dhowan took over as the chief of naval staff today, nearly two months after Admiral D.K. Joshi resigned following a fire on a submarine that killed two officers.

The new navy chief promised he would “pull on the oars together” and stick to standard operating procedures to ensure mishaps did not recur.

“It will be my endeavour to ensure to pull on the oars together and keeping my hands on the tiller to ensure that we run an efficient, taut and a happy navy,” Dhowan told reporters soon after taking over.

Dhowan, 59, superseded Western Naval Command chief Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha to be India’s 22nd navy chief.

Dhowan’s appointment comes at a time the navy cannot really be termed as “happy”. The force had been hit by as many as a dozen incidents on sea over the past year. Particularly singeing was the fire on the submarine INS Sindhuratna that killed two officers and prompted Joshi to resign.

Soon after taking over, Dhowan told reporters there were effective safety audits and strict procedures in place to ensure that accidents did not happen.

“Being a professional navy, we have to ensure that these incidents do not happen in future,” said Dhowan. “The way to do that is to follow the standard operating procedures that are laid down and we don’t take any shortcuts that lead to these accidents,” he said, asked how the navy would prevent mishaps.

Although Joshi resigned after the submarine tragedy, his exit came after a string of incidents marked by a major mishap in August 2013. A blast on the INS Sindhurakshak off Mumbai harbour sank the diesel-powered submarine, killing all 18 sailors on board.

Last December, INS Talwar, a Russian-made stealth frigate, slammed into a fishing trawler off the Maharashtra coast, although the 27 fishermen on board were rescued.

Commissioned into the navy on January 1, 1975, Dhowan is a navigation and direction specialist. His tenure will be for 25 months. Joshi was a submarine specialist.

Although Dhowan has not headed any operational command, he has commanded frontline warships INS Khukri, INS Ranjit, INS Delhi and served as the chief staff officer (operations), headquarters, Western Naval Command. He has also served as Indian naval adviser to the high commission in London.

Dhowan commanded the eastern fleet as flag officer commanding and served as chief of staff at headquarters, Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam. He was also the commandant of the National Defence Academy, his alma mater. He also received training at the Defence Services Staff College and Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, the US.

The staff appointments held by Dhowan include the posts of assistant chief of the naval staff (policy and plans), the deputy chief of naval staff and vice-chief of naval staff.