The Naval Air Station at Campbell Bay on Great Nicobar Island, was today commissioned as Indian Naval Ship ‘Baaz’ by Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief of the Naval Staff. INS Baaz is situated at a distance of about 300 nm from Port Blair and is the southernmost air station of the Indian armed forces.
Speaking on the occasion Admiral Nirmal Verma said that “the archipelago, separated as it is by more than 650 nm from our mainland, offers a vital geo-strategic advantage to India. Not only do they provide the Nation with a commanding presence in the Bay of Bengal, the Islands also serve as our window into East and South East Asia”. He added that “They also sit astride some of the busiest shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean, most carrying strategic cargo for East Asian economies”.
Bringing out that the Navy has been progressively increasing the number of warships based in the Andaman and Nicobar Command, Admiral Nirmal Verma said Port Blair will be home to amphibious platforms, Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels and Fast Attack Craft as the Navy’s robust acquisition plans progress”. Emphasizing upon the strategic location of INS Baaz Admiral Verma reminded those gathered that INS Baaz, overlooks the Strait of Malacca, while also dominating the 6 degree channel”.
INS Baaz is currently equipped to operate light to heavy aircraft capable of short field operations from the runway of about 3500 feet. The runway will be progressively lengthened to enable unrestricted operation of all category of aircraft including heavy aircraft. The base will also be bolstered with modern airfield instruments and navigation aids.
Congratulating the Commanding Officer, Commander SK Singh Deo, Admiral Verma acknowledged the contribution of the men in resolutely manning the remote island territories. Admiral Verma said “the work undertaken by each one of you, allows optimum exploitation of this strategic air station”. Talking about its Admiral Verma said “One of the primary functions of INS Baaz will be to provide information, based on ‘airborne’ maritime surveillance”. Admiral Verma added that airborne surveillance using aircraft and UAVs remains invaluable to building Maritime Domain Awareness.
The commissioning ceremony was attended by Lt Gen Naresh Marwah, (CINCAN) Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command and Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, (CISC) Chief of Integrated Defense Staff to Chairman Chief of Staff Committee.
It may be recalled that the Government of India had recently sanctioned numerous steps to fortify infrastructure in the strategically located Andaman and Nicobar chain of Islands with forward operating bases in Kamorta (Nicobar Islands) and Diglipur (Andaman) as well.
Pivoted around the Andaman and Nicobar Command, headquartered at Port Blair, co-operative maritime engagement with South East Asian and East Asian countries is also being constantly enhanced through initiatives like the MILAN series of exercises, co-operative patrols with countries like Indonesia and Thailand and other Navy-to-Navy linkages with ASEAN countries as distant as Vietnam.