ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Aircraft Carriers Do Not Offer a Strategic Panacea

Aircraft carriers, despite their great cost, have always been seen as strategically important by the Indian Navy due to what must be a misplaced sense of grandeur. Today, they are seen as vital for India to establish a naval presence as a world power, even as they have lost their signifi cance elsewhere.

On 21 February 1946, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wrote to G E B Abbey, private secretary to the viceroy, Archibald Wavell, suggesting that the small and medium sized vessels of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) be converted for the purpose of fishing to provide an additional source of food supply to meet the food crisis in India.1

This was the time when RIN mutiny was at its peak and vice admiral J H Godfrey, the flag officer commanding, RIN announced on the All India Radio that he would blow up the very navy he was commanding, if the striking ratings did not surrender. It was from such deep internal crisis that independent India’s navy emerged to launch its quest to be a blue water fleet. The direct influence of British officers (vice admiral S H Carlill was the last British Chief of the India Navy) on Indian Navy lasted till 1958. However, the intellectual imprints of British admiralty have ensured that the 21st century Indian Navy continues to rely on carrier battle groups (CBG) as the lynchpin of its maritime strategy.

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