President to sail on INS Subhadra on Dec 20

President Pratibha Patil will sail on warship INS Subhadra to receive a salute from a flotilla of 81 ships and 44 aircraft lined up in the harbour and get a glimpse of the country`s growing Naval might during the Presidential Fleet Review (PFR) here on December 20.

The Navy will display its strength by showcasing its fleet of battleships such as the aircraft carrier INS Virat, Kilo-Class submarines, its aerial assets including the MiG-29K, helicopters and 8,000 men, an Indian Navy spokesperson said.

"On December 20, 76 warships of Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard (ICG), three merchant marine vessels, one training ship SCC Jaanu and Navy`s only sail ship INS Mhadei will salute the President in a gala ceremony," he said.

The PFRs are only next to the Republic Day parade where the Supreme Commander reviews the combined strength of all the three services.

Mumbai-based Western Naval Command which is conducting the PFR, has already turned Mumbai coast into a fortress. "PFR is a rare occasion where all the warships, submarines and aircraft assemble together. A lot of security arrangement is also put in place using all the available reconnaissance and surveillance assets," a Navy official said.

On December 20, the programme will begin with the customary 21-gun salute to the President upon reaching the Naval dockyard in Mumbai.

After receiving the gun-salute, the President will embark on INS Subhadra which has been designated as the Presidential Yacht for the occasion.

On INS Subhadra- a Sukanya-Class offshore patrol vessel- the President will sail past the warships anchored in the sea, covering an area of 20 square nautical miles approximately.

In the reviewing coloums, the ships will have its crew positioned on its sides and as the President passes by the personnel will take off their caps in unison and will salute the President by shouting `Jai`.

Along with the INS Viraat, Rajput-class destroyers, Shivalik, Godavari and Brahmputra class frigates, Khukri-class missile corvettes, fleet tankers and landing ships will salute the President.

The submarine column will include the Sindhughosh and Shishumar-class submarines, followed by Fast Attack Crafts (FAC), minesweepers vessels and missiles and torpedo boats. The hydrography survey vessel, ocean-going tugs, sail ships and several coast guard patrol vessels will also be there to salute the President.

The fly past consisting of 44 fighter jets will be led by the recently inducted MiG-29K aircraft, followed by Sea Harriers. The fighter planes will be followed by choppers and surveillance aircraft of the Navy and Coast Guard.

During sunset, a firework will be displayed by the ships after which these vessels will switch on their deck lights marking their silhouettes in the darkness.

Inherited from the Royal British Navy, PFR takes place once during the tenure of a President. So far nine such reviews, including the International Fleet Review (IFR) in 2001, have taken place.

Dr Rajendra Prasad reviewed the first PFR in October 1953. In 1956 and 1964, the reviews were carried out by the Shah of Iran and by then Defence Minister Y B Chavan, respectively.

Presidents Dr Zakir Hussain, N Sanjiva Reddy and Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma did not review the fleet during their tenure. The last fleet review was conducted by President A P J Abdul Kalam in 2006 at the Eastern Sea Board in Visakhapatnam.