Defence Minister Arun Jaitley to visit aircraft carrier INS Viraat in Mumbai

New Delhi: Defence Minister Arun Jaitley will visit aircraft carrier INS Viraat in Mumbai on Saturday and review the operational preparedness of the Western Naval Command, which witnessed two major submarine mishaps in the last one year.

During his visit to the Western Command, the Defence Minister will also commission two fast-attack craft ICGS Achook and ICGS Agrim, of the Indian Coast Guard, Navy officials said here. After taking charge, Jaitley has been busy with briefings by Defence Ministry officials and the chiefs of armed forces and is reviewing the functioning and performance of various departments.

In his first visit as Defence Minister, Jaitley will visit INS Viraat in Mumbai harbour and then move to review the functioning and operational preparedness of the Western Naval Command. INS Viraat was till recently the only aircraft carrier in the Indian Navy and the force is working towards keeping it operational for a few more years to meet its requirements.

The command suffered more than 10 mishaps in the last ten months and even saw its Commander-in-Chief resigning after being superseded by the government for the appointment of new Navy chief. The Western Naval Command, considered to be the sword-arm of the Indian Navy, suffered major blows in terms of the loss of the latest submarine INS Sindhurakshak in an explosion in which all 18 persons on board were killed.

The Defence Minister has been invited by the armed forces to visit far flung bases to show solidarity with the troops and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to have been invited to visit Siachen glacier by the Army and largest warship aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya by the Navy.

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