Admiral Karambir Singh (Vice Admiral before the oath-taking) on Friday morning took charge as India's new Chief of Naval Staff, with the baton being passed to him by Admiral Sunil Lanba who is to retire after four decades of distinguished service and three years at the helm of India's Navy. The oath-taking ceremony was held at the South Block Lawns in New Delhi, with a guard-of-honour marking the appointment.
Admiral Singh, who was serving as the FOC-in-C of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam, is the first helicopter pilot to become chief of Naval Staff. Before taking over as FOC-in-C Eastern Naval Command in October 2017, he also served as Deputy Chief as well as Vice Chief of Naval Staff.
Making his address after his oath-taking, Admiral Singh praised his predecessor for taking the Navy to new heights and said that it would be his endeavour to make it even stronger. Admiral Sunil Lanba, who also spoke, called his called his successor "very capable" and assessed the Navy as being strong and mission-ready to meet maritime security challenges.
Born on November 3, 1959, the Admiral was commissioned into the Indian Navy on July 1, 1980. He earned his wings as a helicopter pilot in 1982 and has flown extensively on Chetak and Kamov helicopters. A graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai, he hails from Jalandhar and is a recipient of Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) and the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM). In his career spanning over 37 years, the Admiral has commanded four ships -- Indian Coast Guard ship Chandbibi, missile corvette INS Vijaydurg, guided missile destroyers INS Rana and INS Delhi, apart from also serving as the Fleet Operations Officer of the Western Fleet.
His other important assignments include Chief of Staff of the Tri-Services Unified Command at Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra and Gujarat Naval Area (FOMAG). In the rank of Vice Admiral, he was also the Director General of Project Seabird, looking after infrastructure development of the Navy's modern base at Karwar.
The oath-taking took place after a military tribunal had on Wednesday allowed Admiral Singh to take charge as the new Navy chief as it deferred a hearing on a petition challenging his appointment by Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command Vice Admiral Bimal Verma by nearly seven weeks.
Vice Admiral Bimal Verma had approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) challenging the appointment of Singh as the next Navy Chief, overlooking his seniority. Vice Admiral Karambir Singh's continuation will depend on the final outcome of the case. Verma is the senior-most naval commander.
The Navy Chief retires after a three-year tenure or on attaining 62 years of age, whichever comes earlier.
(With Agency Inputs)