Origin and Evolution of Indian Navy

The Indian Navy is the maritime arm of the Indian armed forces. It protects and secures the Indian maritime borders. It also protects Indian shipping in the Indian Ocean region. It is one of the world's largest Navies in terms of both personnel and naval vessels.

India has a rich maritime heritage that dates back thousands of years. The beginning of India's maritime history dates back to 3000 BC. During this time, the inhabitants of Indus Valley Civilisation had maritime trade link with Mesopotamia.

The discovery of a tidal dock at Lothal in Gujarat is proof of India's ancient maritime tradition. The mention of the Department of Navadhyaksha or Superindent of Ships in Kautilya's treatise Arthasastra highlights the development of maritime commerce. The ancient Tamil empire of the Cholas in the south, and the Marathas and the Zamorins of Kerala during the 16th and 17th centuries maintained naval fleets.

The history of the Indian Navy can be traced back to 1612 when Captain Best encountered and defeated the Portuguese. It was responsible for the protection of the East India Company's trade in the Gulf of Cambay and the river mouths of the Tapti and Narmada. The East India Company came under the British Crown on 01 May 1830 and acquired combatant status. It was named as Her Majesty's Indian Navy in 1858. In 1863, it was reorganised into two branches; one at Bombay and the other at Calcutta, as the Bombay Marine and the Bengal Marine.

Thereafter, it was called The Royal Indian Navy (RIN), under the British rule. The first Indian to be granted a commission was Sub Lieutenant D.N Mukherji. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Royal Indian Navy consisted of eight warships. By the end of the war, its strength had risen to 117 combat vessels and 30,000 personnel who had seen action in various theatres of operations.

On India attaining Independence, the Royal Indian Navy consisted of 32 ageing vessels suitable only for coastal patrol with R Adm ITS Hall, CIE, being the first Post-independence Commander-in-Chief. After the independence of India on 15 August 1947 and the ensuing partition, the RIN's fleet of ships and remaining personnel were divided between the newly independent Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan.

The first engagement in action of the Indian Navy was against the Portuguese Navy during the liberation of Goa in 1961. During the Goa liberations, Operation Vijay, the Indian Navy supported troop landings and provided fire support. The 1962 Sino-Indian War was largely fought over the Himalayas and the Navy had only a limited role in the war. Indian Naval activity in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 largely involved coastal patrols.

During the war, the Pakistani Navy attacked the Indian coastal city of Dwarka, although there were no military resources in the area. India deployed naval resources to patrol the coast and deter further bombardment.

The Indian Navy's capabilities were best demonstrated during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. The navy successfully enforced a naval blockade of West and East Pakistan. Pakistan's lone long-range submarine PNS Ghazi was sunk off the coast of Visakhapatnam. On 4 December 1971, the Indian Navy successfully executed Operation Trident, a devastating attack on the Pakistan Naval Headquarters of Karachi that sank a mine sweeper; a destroyer and ammunition supply ship. The attack also damaged another destroyer and oil storage tanks at the Karachi port. To commemorate this action, 4 December is celebrated as the Navy Day.