Military & Aerospace

INS Jatayu: India’s New Naval Base
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 14 Mar , 2024

On 6 March 2024, INS Jatayu was commissioned as a new Naval Base of India at Minicoy island in the Lakshadweep chain, by Administrator Praful Patel and Indian Naval Chief, Admiral R Hari Kumar. Minicoy is the southernmost island in Lakshadweep overlooking the archipelago of Maldives.

The main for creating this naval base are to strengthen security infrastructure of the strategically crucial Lakshadweep islands; give additional reach of operation to the Indian Navy; keep an eye on the maritime territories of India; challenge unfriendly intrusions and give immediate response and help to any SOS call from vessels in crisis.

A Naval detachment with limited surveillance capacity was already existing on Minicoy atoll since 1980 under command the main Naval base, INS Dweep Rakshak, located at Kavaratti, the capital of Lakshadweep islands. INS Jatayu will be the second naval base and will cover the Southern tip of Lakshadweep.

Lakshadweep islands are like a pearl necklace 250 to 400 kms west of the Indian main land, off the Malabar coast of Kerala. In Sanskrit and Malayalam, Lakshadweep means a group of hundred thousand islands.  It is an archipelago of 36 islands with a total area is only 32 square kilometres. Only 11 islands are inhabited.

Lakshadweep is an important strategic asset of India on the Indian Ocean. It can be distinctly divided in three clusters. The first group is called Amindivi group located in the North (Bitra, Chetiat , Kiltan, Kadmat and Amini islands), Laccadive is the second  group in the centre (Andrott , Agatti. Kavaratti, Kalpeni islands), the third group located in south consists of Minicoy and Viringli islands. These islands are sandwiched between the Arabian sea in the west and Laccadive Sea in the East. The total population inhabiting the islands is 65000 approximately of which 96 % is Muslim. Malayalam is widely spoken although English is the official Language. The main international maritime trade route passes between Lakshadweep and Maldives.

There is only one Airport in Lakshadweep, which is located on Aggati island. The runaway of 1300 metres length is common for military and civil aircrafts. The length is only capable of operation of Turbo prop Aircrafts like Dornier and ATR 40/ 70. IAF recently acquired C 295 transport and landed it at Agatti on 6 March. The distance from Kochi, Kerala to Kavaratti, capital of Lakshadweep is 404 kms, the flight time is about 1.30 hours and by ship it takes 18 hours.

Immediately after independence, Sardar Patel, the first Deputy Prime minister of India, declared that Lakshadweep islands  which was controlled by Madras presidency was an integral part of India. There was, however, no physical presence of Indian Armed forces there. Patel was informed through reliable sources that Pakistan may attempt to lay claim on the islands as they had a Muslim majority. Indian Naval ships landed at Kavaratti and hoisted the Indian flag there on 1 October, 1947. After a few days, Pakistani ships came with the intention of a takeover but were surprised to see Indian Ships already in position. After being challenged, the Pakistani armada reverted to Karachi base. Lakshadweep was given a union territory status on 1 November 1956. Old facilities were converted as permanent bases in 1980 and the monitoring station was established at Minicoy.

INS Dweep Rakshak, a permanent Naval base was commissioned on 30 April 2012 at Kavaratti by Vice Admiral Krishnan Nair, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command. Captain SM Hanchinal was the first commanding officer of the Naval station. It was equipped with Radar station, satellite communication centre, base Headquarters, Administration block and living barracks for the Naval staff. It had a jetty for Ships/Submarine docking and re-fuelling and maintenance facilities, a Naval hospital and a large helipad with hangar facilities completed the list of facilities available. It is the control Headquarters of the entire Naval and coastguard assets in Lakshadweep.

INS Jatayu will have the similar facilities like radar station, communication centre, living barracks, and HQ complex etc. The main component will be location for the newly commissioned Naval aviation squadron INAS 334 equipped with the US made Submarine killer Seahawks MH60 Romeo Multirole helicopters which are presently at Kochi at Naval base INS Garud. Captain Abhishek Ram, CO 334 Indian naval aviation squadron informed that India has ordered 24 MH 60 R from US in 2020 and 6 Seahawks are already operating from Vikrant. INS Jatayu will be the future operating base for these deadly birds. The clearance for a Green Airport has been given and soon a runaway fit for fixed wing fighter jets also will be commissioned.

MH60R powered with twin General Electric T700 engines, is a deadly platform with range of 830 kms and speed of 270 kmph. Height ceiling is 12000 feet. The weapon combination is 4 x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, 4x MK 54 Torpedoes and the secondary armament mounted is M 240 Heavy Machine Gun. It also has a mine clearance system.  Enhanced sonar sensors can detect and hunt submerged submarines at long range. The runway will be tailor made for landing of P8I Maritime surveillance aircrafts and MIG 29 Fighters also.

On the day of inauguration of the base, in an impressive ceremony, Admiral Hari Kumar reviewed a 50-men Guard of honour. Afterwards, Commander Vrat Baghel, the first commanding officer recited an invocation in Sanskrit followed by reading of the commission warrant. After unveiling of the commissioning plaque, the naval Ensign and pennant were hoisted on the mast, to the tune of the National Anthem.

INS Jatayu will be under command Naval officer-in-charge (Lakshadweep) Southern Naval Command based at Kavaratti. Admiral R Hari Kumar, while addressing a media after the ceremony said that INS Jatayu will be close to the Eight Degree channel giving a facility to observe the heavy maritime traffic flow in and out of the Arabian sea. It would boost our maritime domain awareness (MDA).  It is the beginning of a phased expansion of India’s surveillance and security posture in the Indian Ocean Zone.

The strategic importance of INS Jatayu is to neutralise threats of belligerent vessels threatening Indian assets and monitoring of international trade route between 11 Degree and 8 Degree channels. The nearest Maldives northern island will be just 125 kms from Minicoy. INS Jatayu will also keep a check on Somali Sea pirates. Narcotics trade and illegal Arms trafficking will reduce.  Any SOS can be given a quick response by the Indian Navy task force.

The CNS also highlighted the devotion of Jatayu to Lord Rama as mentioned in the Ramayana.  He was the first interceptor, who fought Ravana bravely while the demon was abducting Sita in the Pushpak Viman and sacrificed his life but not before giving the direction and identification of the enemy.  INS Jatayu along with the sea hawks of INS Garud will be a force multiplier in the western and southern maritime frontiers of the Nation and will warn against unholy alliance of Maldives, China and Pakistan.


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2 thoughts on “INS Jatayu: India’s New Naval Base

  1. Best wishes for Navy project Jatayu at lakshadweep. Suggestions which could be useful. As lakshadweep is having multiple islands infrastructure in this remote area is most important. Standby barge mounted desalination plant for emergency cases could be shifted . As there are many islands selecting an island with good elevation size of the largest aircraft carrier. With ground mounted catapult arrangements on a short runway this can be used in hilly areas of our northern border also. Aircraft underground bunkers with controlled atmosphere like humidity, saline atmosphere using sea water 100 mtrs below which is at 18 degC. For air-conditioning, Dehumidifiers can generate sweet water. Using artificial intelligence AI
    for runway with color of sand. Laser lighting to penetrate clouds, fog with color coding for left & right side,for exact visual touch down approach. ILS laser feedback for a theoretical touch down curve. ATC tower conventional or telescopic with 360* cameras which can go underground in case of emergency. Multiple short runways on different islands. Solar energy, wind mills for renewable energy. The size of islands are small & distance also more when viewed through Google maps. Don’t know the elevation above sea level the project has to withstand harsh weather conditions during monsoon.Turbojet ferry service between islands for quick service. As we have a large coastline of 7000km+ on mainland its my view to have navy & coastguard with state of the art satellite, optical cable,microwave link watch towers.Also radar facilities missile launch pads multiple of 150 to 200kms. To make coastline stronger. Also 3 to 5 km stretch of land on coast outside city/town should be made available exclusively for Navy activities. With no fishing activities.

  2. Lakshadweep naval base at Minicoy is an important milestone for the oldest civilization. Everyone knows about Somanath temple created thousands of years ago by our powerful ancestors. When modern compass was not available. There is an arrow marked on an stone post showing the direction of center & magnetic point of earth at south pole . Which is 12000 kms away !!! Without any obstruction of any land mass on the way. Probably lords Trishul could move in that direction. In our times what is appropriate is to test missile from Somanath range can be 12000kms or Lakshadweep if the direction is slightly turned to a distance of 1425 kms to Minicoy Island. It’s only a wild suggestion don’t know much about missile launching programs. This could be possible from Balasore also as i have heard the sentence fell in bay of Bengal. We love peace World believes in flexing muscles. like a lion king in animal world !!!

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