Admiral R K Dhowan on Thursday became the new chief of Indian Navy as the Central government finally ended a 50-day stalemate over finding a replacement for Admiral D K Joshi, who resigned in February.
Admiral Dhowan is the first Navy chief who neither headed any of the two operational commands – western command in Mumbai and eastern command in Vishakhapatnam – nor the Kochi based southern command that focuses on training.
Barring two, all previous Navy chiefs were the commander-in-chiefs (C-in-C) of one of two operational commands. The exceptions were Oscar Stanley Dawson (1982-84) and Sushil Kumar (1998-2001), who were the C-in-C of the training command before becoming the chief.
Dhowan will remain chief till May 31, 2016.
He took over as the vice chief in August 2011. After Admiral Joshi’s sudden resignation on February 26 taking moral responsibility for a string of accidents involving naval platforms, he was asked by the defence ministry to officiate as the Navy chief.
The government did not go by seniority and ignored the claims of senior-most naval officer Vice Admiral Sekhar Sinha, who is the C-in-C of the western naval command.
Ever since Joshi’s resignation, there was intense speculation on who would succeed him.
Soon after taking over as the Navy chief, Dhowan said, “We have effective safety audits and strict procedures in place to ensure that accidents don’t happen. Being a professional Navy, we have to ensure that these incidents do not happen in future. And the way to do that is to follow standard operating procedures that are laid down and we don’t take any shortcuts that lead to these accidents.”
Since naval submarine “INS Sindhurakshak” exploded and sank off Mumbai last August, information on a series of accidents involving naval platforms were leaked out to a section in the media. While some of them like those involving stealth frigate “INS Talwar” and submarine “INS Sindhuratna” were serious in nature, many others were minor.
“Till the time we don’t work together as a team and carry out our daily tasks and face challenges, we would not be able to become a top-class Navy. That is why, our priority would be to work as a team, whether it is a sailor or the commands, take forward the navy and face the challenges in the maritime domain,” Dhowan said. A former skipper of guided missile destroyers “INS Ranjit” and “INS Delhi”, Dhowan is a specialist in navigation and direction.