Post mishap, Navy chief resigns

Post mishap, Navy chief resigns

Navy chief, Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi, on Wednesday resigned after taking “moral responsibility for accidents and incidents” involving Naval warships in the last six months.

Joshi’s resignation came within hours of seven naval officers being injured and two of them going missing after a fire on submarine ‘INS Sindhuratna’, off the Mumbai shores on Wednesday.

This is the second accident in six months. Another submarine of similar class, INS Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank in Mumbai on the eve of Independence Day, killing everybody on board. Between these two accidents, there were a series of major and minor accidents involving Naval warships. Post-Sindhurakshak explosion, there were at least three accidents involving kilo-class submarines, which were commissioned between 1986 and 1994.

“Taking moral responsibility for the accidents and incidents which have taken place during the past few months, Chief of Naval Staff Joshi resigned. The government accepted the resignation with immediate effect,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.

Joshi took charge on August 31, 2012. He had almost one-and-a-half year’s service left. He was slated to become the chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee as the seniormost military officer, after Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh’s retirement in July 2014.

Joshi became the second service chief to voluntarily resign after former Army chief Gen K S Thimmaiah, who resigned in 1959 for a brief period over a dispute with then defence minister V K Krishna Menon. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, however, persuaded Gen Thimmaiah to complete his tenure.

Former Army chief Gen P N Thapar also resigned after China defeated India in the 1962 war.  Among Navy chiefs, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat was the first and only serving Navy chief to be sacked by the government in 1998 after he refused to obey a Cabinet decision. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister and George Fernandes the defence minister. Kar said vice-chief of the Navy, Vice-Admiral R K Dhowan, would discharge duties of the Navy chief, pending appointment of a regular chief. Dhowan, a former fleet commander of the Eastern Fleet, took over as the vice-chief on August 31, 2011. He will retire in a few months.

Joshi's sudden resignation will upset the Navy's succession plan. In the normal course, Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, who heads the Southern Naval Command in Kochi, was tipped to become the next chief.

Now, Dhowan and Vice-Admiral Sekhar Sinha, who heads the western naval command, are the two seniormost officers. While Dhowan is to retire in May 2014, Sinha’s retirement is due in November 2014.

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