The first literary reference to Goa can be found in the Mahabharata as Gomanta (i.e, the region of cows). According to legend, Parshurama created Goa by pushing back the sea with his arrows and creating a stretch of land for himself. Thus the destiny and future of Goa was and still is closely connected to the seas. It was after the arrival of the Portuguese Admiral Afonso De Albuquerque in 1510, that the Portuguese established a base at Goa. This lasted for the next four centuries. Despite periodic attacks by Adil Shah, Marathas, Dutch, British and the Sultans of Zamorin and Gujarat, the Portuguese naval fleet was always able to defend Goa effectively and recapture it on more than one occasion. Goa was the base for Albuquerque’s conquest of Mallaca in 1511 and Hormuz in 1515 by the sea route. Goa remained neutral during World War – II although it was utilized as a port of refuge by many Axis ships, who wanted to avoid being sunk or captured by the British Royal Navy. After August 1947, Goa continued to remain under Portuguese control, despite Jawahar Lal Nehru’s insistence that it be returned to India. After failure of prolonged diplomatic efforts, India decided to exercise the military option to evict the Portuguese from Goa. On 16 December, 1961 Operation Vijay was launched to liberate Goa which resulted in surrender of the Portuguese forces on 19 Dec 1961.In a short but swift operation, the three armed forces cordoned off the Portuguese forces at Goa, forcing them to surrender. The Navy to set up the Indian Naval Air Arm at Dabolim in Goa.
INS Hansa was shifted from Sulur, Tamil Nadu to Dabolim in 1964. The Naval Jet Flight (INAS 551) operated Vampire F-52 and T-55. INAS 321 which consisted of the newly inducted Alouette III helicopters were next to be commissioned in 1964.The antisubmarine dimension came with the arrival of Seaking 42B as the 330 squadron and Ka-25/ Ka 28 as the INAS 333 Sq. These were augmented by Ka 31 in the 90s. INS Hansa was also designated as the home base for Alize and Sea Hawk aircrafts which were carrier borne squadrons operating as INAS 310 (Cobras Sqn) and INAS 300 (White Tigers). Another milestone was achieved in 2013 with the commissioning of INAS 303-the Mig 29K Squadron which is borne on the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya.
Maritime reconnaissance came with the induction of Super Constellation aircraft in 1976. Designated as INAS 312 – The Albatross, the squadron was thereafter augmented by IL-38 long range MR aircraft and re-named as INAS 315 – The Winged Stallions in the late 70’s. Dorniers made their appearance in the 80’s and have continued to play a vital role in maintaining maritime air surveillance over the western seaboard.
Navy’s air arm is poised for an exponential growth. New acquisitions like P-8I, Tejas, Hawk Trainer, HJT-36, amphibious aircrafts, medium range helicopters and UAVs have further widened the aviation matrix. INS Hansa is thus likely to play a greater role in Naval Aviation. Many warships of friendly foreign countries regularly call on port of Goa for goodwill visits. Goa Shipyard Limited has been an important partner of the Indian Navy in its quest for indigenous ship building.
The past five decades have seen substantial development of Naval Assets in Goa. The Indian Navy is poised to further increase its operational footprint on the western seaboard, given its steady force accretions and varied roles and missions. Goa with its manifestly maritime character, is destined to play a pivotal role in sustaining the nation’s maritime resurgence and the Navy’s multidimensional operational outreach.