INDIA. MUMBAI: The Indian Navy decommissioned two warships- INS Akshay and INS Nishank, which were in service for over 32 years, in an elegant and solemn ceremony at Naval Dock Yard in South Mumbai at sunset on Friday.
The national flag, naval ensign, and the decommissioning pennants were lowered for the last time at sunset at 7.13 pm, even as the Naval band played the previous post.
Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), was the Chief Guest for the function. Vice Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, and Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sandeep Mehta, Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area, Lt Gen HS Kahlon, General Officer Commanding (Indian Army) Maharashtra, Gujarat & Goa Area were among the dignitaries present for the ceremony.
Vice Admiral RK Pattnaik (Retd) and Vice Admiral SPS Chema (Retd), the first Commanding Officers of INS Akshay and INS Nishank, respectively, were Guests of Honour for the event.
In his speech, the CNS Vice Admiral R Harikumar said that these ships were in active naval service for over 32 years and, during their illustrious journeys, played an active role in various operations, including Operation Talwar (1999 Kargil war), Operation Parakram (attack on Indian Parliament in 2001) and operation after the 2017 Uri (Kashmir) attack, maintaining a vigil to give a befitting reply against any enemy misadventure.
These Indian warships successfully faced many underwater challenges, and their glorious innings ended. These ships proved to be a laboratory of man management and molded many budding leaders.
As the commissioning is essential, the decommissioning is also more challenging. Every ship in the Indian Navy is treated as if it were a living being. Decommissioning is a formal but emotional ceremony for a ship, her crew, and the Indian Navy. Nishank will appear as a new generation missile vessel, and Akshay will appear in a new form. Vice Admiral R Harikumar spoke at the event and congratulated the Western Naval Command and the Maharashtra Naval Area.
Later speaking to the media, Vice Admiral RK Pattnaik (Retd), the first Commanding Officer of INS Akshay, said that these smaller ships are more powerful and dedicated and face more challenges handling search locate operations. It isn’t easy to identify submarines. The first Commanding Officer of INS Nishank said that the warship had been a powerful platform that satisfied work and led to overall progress.
Nishank (K 43) and Akshay (P 35) were part of the 22 Missile Vessel Squadron and 23 Patrol Vessel Squadron, respectively, under the operational control of Flag Officer Commanding, Maharashtra Naval Area. While INS Nishank was commissioned on September 12, 1989, INS Akshay was commissioned a year later, on December 10, 1990. Both the vessels were constructed at Poti Shipyard in Georgia (erstwhile USSR).
Akshay was part of the 23rd patrol vessel squadron, whose primary role was anti-submarine warfare and coastal patrol. The ship had been operating under the Naval Officer-in-Charge, Maharashtra. With its formidable armament of long-range torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets, the submarine hunter was on patrol, keeping the enemy submarines at bay.
Nishank, the fourth of the Veer-class missile corvette, had been an integral part of the “Killer Squadron” renowned for its heroics in the 1971 war. Nishank held the distinction of having operated on both the eastern and western seaboard.