Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash said on Wednesday [24 May] that the navy was going ahead with the construction of an additional naval base about 60 km south of Visakhapatnam.
"The Vizag port is getting crowded and the channel has become narrow. We have acquired roughly 5,000 acres of land with the help of the state government. Negotiations are on with the villagers on their relocation and payment of compensation," Admiral Prakash told mediapersons after presenting gallantry and service medals to naval personnel at the Eastern Command headquarters here.
The additional base will come up some 32 km south of Gangavaram port, where a consortium is building a port. Several naval experts have voiced concern over the threat to security from having a private port so close to the naval base. Now, the Gangavaram port will have the Eastern Command 28 km to the north of it, and the new base 32 km to the south.
The navy, however, has previously told the government that it sees no threat from the Gangavaram port. A senior official of the Indian navy said that new base was still in the conceptual stage. It would have a separate harbour and channel into the sea, the present channel at the Visakhapatnam port being totally choked by cargo and defence ships and submarines. The additional base will have all the operations on par with the existing naval base.
The 5,000 acres will be acquired to the south of the city under Rambilli, Nakkapalli and Yelamanchali mandals of the district. A revenue official said that the state government had already identified the land and the negotiations were on with the villagers on relocation and payment of compensation. Admiral Prakash thanked the state government for allotting 5,000 acres of land for the expansion of the Eastern Command. Admiral Prakash also said that the navy would have two aircraft carriers with escort and support ships and submarines to make it a blue water force by 2015.
"We have submitted all the proposals to the government." Pointing out that the navy had got 17.5 per cent of the total defence budget, he said, "We have already placed the orders with the shipyards and they (aircraft carriers) will be ready by 2015." Admiral Prakash said that during his two-day visit to the Eastern Naval Command, he had reviewed the security situation, assessed the assets and reviewed emerging situations in Sri Lanka.