Vice Admiral Karambir Singh
Vice Admiral Karambir Singh | Twitter/@indiannavy
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New Delhi: The Modi government Saturday announced Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next chief of naval staff, superseding Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, who heads the strategically important Andaman and Nicobar Command.

This is the second time that a senior officer of the armed forces has been superseded under the Narendra Modi regime — the elevation of Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat came at the expense of two officers senior to him.

Vice Admiral Singh, currently the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, in Visakhapatnam, will take charge as the Indian Navy chief after Admiral Sunil Lanba retires on 31 May. He will be the Navy’s first helicopter pilot to head the force.

Top government sources told ThePrint that Vice Admiral Singh’s elevation was a “merit-based selection”. It was also on expected lines as a number of factors had worked against Vice Admiral Verma, the senior-most naval officer.

The senior-most officer was overlooked for key posts

Vice Admiral Verma, who has been superseded, had been overlooked for two key postings — as the chief of the Western and Eastern Naval command — considered mandatory for any Navy chief.

He took over command of the ANC, a tri-service command, in 2016 and has remained there since.

Vice Admiral Verma was under scrutiny in the 2005 Navy War Room leak scandal.

Verma, who was the principal director of naval operations when the case broke out, managed to get away with only a “severe displeasure” note from the then vice chief.

According to Navy rules, the displeasure note by the vice chief is not included in the Annual Confidential Report (ACR).

Verma’s second in command, Captain Kashyap Kumar, and two other commanders — V. K. Jha and Vijendra Rana — were dismissed under Article 311 in connection with the scandal.

Vice Admiral Verma is the brother of former Navy chief Nirmal Kumar Verma, who was at the helm of affairs between August 31, 2009, and August 31, 2012.

Also read: What is Project 75 India & what it means for Indian Navy

New chief is a helicopter pilot

Vice-Admiral Singh is an alumnus of National Defence Academy, Pune; Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and the College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai.

Vice Admiral Singh, son of a Wing Commander in the IAF, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in July 1980 and earned his wings as a helicopter pilot in 1982.

He has extensive experience in flying the HAL Chetak and Kamov Ka-25 helicopters. He has commanded numerous ships including the ICGS Chand Bibi, INS Vijaydurg, INS Rana and INS Delhi. Prior to taking over the Eastern Naval Command, he served as the Vice Chief of the Indian Navy.

Also read: China gives a guarded response on Indian Navy’s new air base in Andamans

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  1. Without getting into the merits of a particular decision, supersessions in the armed forces can disturb a sense of impartiality and neutrality that has always been part of their professional ethos.


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