The Hon’ble President of India being the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, once in his/her term, reviews the Indian Naval (IN) Fleet as part of the ‘President’s Fleet Review’ (PFR). This review aims at assuring the country of the Indian Navy’s preparedness, high morale and discipline.
Many leading nations of the world use the opportunity provided by the Fleet Review to enhance mutual trust and confidence with their maritime neighbours and partners by inviting their ships to participate in the review. Normally called ‘International Fleet Review’ (IFR), this event then allows the host nation an occasion to display its maritime capabilities and the ‘bridges of friendship’ and trust it has built with other maritime nations. The last IFR was conducted in January 2001, off Mumbai with participation from 29 countries. This earned the country widespread appreciation and goodwill.
The Indian Navy is conducting an International Fleet Review from 04 – 08 February 2016, off Visakhapatnam. The IFR-16 is proposed to be done at a much larger scale than ever done before.
History of Fleat Review
A Naval Fleet Review is a long-standing tradition followed by navies all over the world. It is a grand occasion when every operational ship is spruced up, proudly displaying its crest and its company in a spirit of loyalty and allegiance to its sovereign and the state. The idea of a Review was perhaps conceived as a show of naval might or an inspection of readiness for battle at sea. It still has the same connotation, but assembling of warships without any belligerent intentions is now the norm in modern times. Later reviews were used as a celebratory demonstration for victories in battle, for a coronation or on the occasion of the visit of royal guests. On many occasions, ships have sailed across the seas to participate in fleet reviews of friendly nations. While India boasts of a maritime tradition dating back to Vedic times, we do not have any authentic reports of fleet reviews of the past except for a mention of two influential women demanding a fleet review during the supremacy of the Marathas.
Britain, from whom the Indian Navy has inherited several customs, dates her first Review to 1415 when Henry V inspected his Fleet before embarking for war with France. It was also an occasion, perhaps the only one, when the ruler or sovereign appeared before the sailors as symbol of his country to strengthen the bond between Lord and subject. The review inspired the men to avow their allegiance to their country and fight to preserve its sovereignty. It is indeed a strong bond which links seafarers of the world, for fleet reviews are not limited to any nation and often follow exactly the same drill even on different continents.
In India, the President, as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, reviews the Fleet once during his tenure. Ten Reviews have taken place in India since Independence in 1947. The first was held in 1953 and the last prior to International Fleet Review 2016, in 2011. After a number of ceremonies ashore, the President’s Yacht steam past an impressive array of ships of both the Indian and merchant navies and the Coast Guard, which together symbolize the country’s maritime strength. The Indian Fleet Reviews varies from that of some navies of the world, where ships steam past the reviewing yacht or ship. In a tradition inherited from the Royal Navy, the President inspects the navy to ascertain its strength and reaffirm his faith in its readiness to safeguard the nation’s maritime interests and its security.
In this most formal of naval ceremonies, vessels from all commands are anchored in lines at the precise spot allotted to them. After a 21-gun salute, the President embarks on the Presidential yacht, distinguishable by the Asoka emblem on her side and reviews all the ships by cruising past them. Each ship is manned by her ship’s company, dressed in white ceremonial uniforms. In a moment that stands still in time, white caps are doffed in unison in a grand salutation. The resounding sound of ‘Three Jais’ echoes over the waves, carrying the promise of the allegiance of each and every sailor and officer to the State and the President, their Supreme Commander. It is this bond that will carry them through the adversity of combat.
The artistic lines of the IFR logo represent the initial letters of the International Fleet Review, namely I, F and R and are coordinated in a fashion to indicate the three dimensions of the Navy, viz. Ship, Submarine and Aircraft. The inner circle has the colours of the Indian Tricolour. The outer circle has the event, the year and its venue.
The mascot for IFR-2016 is the lovable creature of the ocean, known for its intelligence, social habits and grace – the Dolphin, depicting friendship across the oceans. Sighting a school of dolphins at sea has always been a welcome sight for seafarers. In fact, the ancient Greeks welcomed dolphins at sea and spotting dolphins riding in a ship’s wake was considered a good omen. Being located in the Navy’s premier submarine operating command, Vizag’s association with the dolphin is accentuated by the ‘Dolphineers’ (Submariners) proudly displaying the prestigious “Dolphin” badge on their chests. Additionally, the ‘Dolphin lighthouse’ at Vizag (located on Dolphins nose) is a landmark structure and is the gateway to maritime traffic from the east. Vizag therefore can be endearingly likened as the Dolphin city!
And here you can listen and watch the video of the theme song of the event