New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inducted into the navy the country's largest ever indigenously built warship, INS Kolkata, and dedicated it to the nation.
"In the age of science and technology, intelligence and security is of utmost importance. INS Kolkata is entirely built in India and it is a symbol of our self-reliance. It is a prime example of India's technical abilities and will send a message around the globe," Modi said at the commissioning ceremony of the stealth destroyer at the naval dockyard in Mumbai.
He added: "Our Naval officers have prepared a fine vessel of communication in this modern age. Let India be powerful and let our armed forces never fall behind in the world. No country will dare to challenge India after commissioning of INS Kolkata. I have full confidence that our naval forces will be there in front to protect our country at all times."
Giving a pep talk to the navy, Modi said that he assured all the naval officers that "the nation's citizens, though not in uniform, stand united behind you".
Also present on the occasion were Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan. "It is a historic day for India and its people. I hope this ship will enhance our Navy's capacity," Jaitley said.
INS Kolkata is a part of the Kolkata Class destroyers of the Indian Navy, which will include follow-on ships by the names of INS Kochi and INS Chennai. It has been built at the Mumbai-based Mazgaon Docks, a defence Public Sector Unit, has an operating range of 15,000 kms.
The stealth destroyer has an in-built anti-submarine capability and can take on an anti-ship missiles and fighter aircraft. It is also the first Indian ship to be armed with the land attack, anti-ship BrahMos missile. All these capabilities give INS Kolkata an edge over others in operating without supporting fleet of ships.
The Indian Navy is currently undergoing a massive expansion, after suffering over 10 mishaps involving its assets in the past one-and-a-half years.
While most of these accidents did not claim any lives, 21 officers and sailors died in three mishaps, including that on INS Sindhurakshak. Some 18 crew members were killed when blasts ripped through the torpedo compartment of the submarine which was berthed in Mumbai harbour last year.
And, another accident on board INS Sindhuratna in February this year led to the resignation of the then Chief of Naval Staff Admiral DK Joshi, who owned moral responsibility for the incident.