In Appointing Next Naval Chief, Govt Overlooks Seniority, Goes For ‘Merit’

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New Delhi: Contunuing with its policy of overlooking the seniority criterion, the government has appointed Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next chief of naval staff, succeeding Admiral Sunil Lanba. Vice Admiral Singh, who is at present serving as the Flag Officer Commanding in Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam, will be the first helicopter pilot to become Chief of Naval Staff. He will take charge as Navy Chief on May 31, the Defence Ministry said. Before taking over as FOC-in-C Eastern Naval Command in October 2017, Singh also served as Deputy Chief as well as Vice-Chief of Naval Staff.

The government made the selection following a merit-based approach, said a MoD sources said, and did not go with the tradition of appointing the seniormost eligible officer to the post. Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, who is senior to Singh, was among the contenders for the top post, they said. While appointing the Army Chief too in 2016, the Government did not follow the long-held tradition of going by the seniority.

Besides Verma, the other contenders for the Navy Chief's post included Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, FOC-in-C of Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar and FOC-in-C of Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, the sources said.

Born on November 3, 1959, Singh 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. Singh, who is a graduate of Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington, and College of Naval Warfare (CNW), Mumbai, hails from Jalandhar and is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) and 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. Singh has also served as 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).

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