Indian Navy divers are seen on board an inflatable craft next to the conning tower of diesel-powered of the INS Sindhurakshak (covered with red and white sheet) as it lies submerged inside the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
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NEW DELHI — Nearly 50 days after former Indian Navy Chief Adm. D.K. Joshi resigned following a submarine accident, the government has appointed acting Navy Chief Adm. Rabinder Kumar Dhowan as the new chief. But the appointment has whipped controversy within the Navy as Dhowan has superseded his senior, Vice Adm. Shekhar Kumar Sinha, the commander of Western Naval Command.
Dhowan had also been vice admiral but was acting chief of the Navy since the Joshi resignation. Navy sources said Sinha was superseded because of the numerous accidents, including on the Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhurakshak last year, which occurred within the Western Command.
No Ministry of Defense official would comment why Sinha was superseded.
“There has been an unusual delay in appointing a new Indian Navy chief, which is yet another example of indecision in MoD under A.K. Antony as defense minister,” says Nitin Mehta, defense analyst here.
After assuming charge April 17, Dhowan, in his message to the Navy, said, “for the Navy to fulfill its mandate as a maritime security provider to the nation, attention would need to be paid at all levels to ensure that there were no gaps in our security preparedness.”
Dhowan has previously served as assistant chief of the Naval Staff (Policy and plans), deputy chief of Naval Staff and vice chief of Naval Staff
Dhowan is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College and Naval War College, Newport, R.I. He has commanded front-line warships INS Khukri, INS Ranjit, INS Delhi and served as Chief Staff Officer (Operations) Headquarters Western Naval Command.
He has also served as Indian Naval Adviser at the High Commission of India, London, and has commanded the Eastern Fleet and served as chief of staff at headquarters, Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam. ■