As India celebrates its 70th Independence day on August 15th,  the country looks back and also looks ahead to the strides it has made in many fields. Sure, we have to go a long way and till date, there are many basic amenities that the people of this huge country still do not enjoy. But we have a come a long way in 70 years and our armed forces are something we take immense pride in (and rightly so!!) . We have the best trained forces, equipments and  facilities. And we love to show off once in a while So on the occasion of Independence day, the husband writes a beautiful piece on ‘International Fleet Review 2016’ which he had the good fortune of attending earlier this year.

First some Information on International Fleet Review 2016 – International Fleet Review 2016 (IFR 2016) was an international maritime exercise hosted and conducted by the Indian Navy on behalf of the President of India in February 2016 to improve relations with other navies in the region. The Indian Navy demonstrated its maritime capabilities to the foreign navies participating in the review.  A fleet review is a gathering of naval ships for observation by a reigning monarch or their representative. Two other notable international fleet reviews were held before 2016: the International Fleet Review 2005 in the United Kingdom and the InternationalFleet Review 2013 in Australia. IFR 2016 was the second international fleet review conducted in India; the first, in Mumbai in 2001, had 29 participants. A total of 95 warships from 50 navies, including the Indian Navy, participated in IFR 2016.The review, conducted from 4 to 8 February 2016 in Visakhapatnam, was organized by the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy. (source:  Wikipedia).

I got a chance to be see the International fleet review as a part of official work and boy what a once in life time opportunity it was as only few selected dignitaries and naval officers can board the presidential yacht  which is used for the review. For the background International fleet review is an maritime exercise conducted by Indian Navy to showcase their strength and also to improve relations with navies of other countries. It was only the second time India was conducting the fleet review, first being in Mumbai in 2001.

Vishkapatnum was beautifully decorated for the occasion and lightings at night made it look like a bride. On the morning of the fleet review I was in total owe by the naval officers in bright spotless white uniforms with all the medals, decoration and sword (Got to know from my arm friend that out of the three arms of the forces Navy has the most rituals, traditions and uniform. We boarded the Presidendial yatch at the eastern naval dock which also had honourable president, prime minister and defence minister. The fleet review is similar in way to parade in during republic day with a difference that the ships with their platoons are lined up on either side in sea and presidential yatch sails in between. As the president sails past the ships he is given salute in Hindi-Rastrapatiji ki Jai.

The fleet consisted sail boats, speed boats, war ships, submarines from India and other nations in their full glamour. Also there was march by naval air force. Strikingly I got to know that most of the Indian ships are Indian naval ships are made in India at Machgaon Dock.  Importantly there were nice arrangement of drinks and food at the yatch.

The president hosted dinner where main attraction among the navy wives was the Prime Minister who was flocked by them to selfies. Next day evening special programme was organized by navy for public also attended by the Prime minister. It included rescue operations by marine commandos, parachuting, fighter planes flying at low levels, march by navies of the participating countries, dance performances by school children. The show ended with spectacular fireworks and dinner hosted by PM.



So a apparently boring official trip turned to be a nice experience and while returning I cannot forget the the sight from the plane of lighted ships dotting the sea like jewels in pitch darkness.

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