India’s maritime heritage and the current prowess over the sea have had a timeless connect to the Western Seaboard. While the Western Naval Command formally came into its current organisational form in 1968, it has evolved over a few millennia in spirit and around four centuries in structure. Today the Western Naval Command is the maritime muscle of a resurgent Indian Navy. It oversees the Western Fleet, the sword arm of the Navy and a range of operational and support formations. The Command saw action for the first time in the liberation of Goa in 1961. After the rousing success of the Western Command in the Goa operations, the Indian Navy in general and the WNC in particular were deployed in readiness with aviation assets forward staged during the 1965 war with Pakistan.
Western Naval Command continued to grow in every dimension in the late 1960s especially with acquisitions in the underwater dimension and cutting edge technologies through new platforms. The newly acquired OSA class Missile Boats came into action in a big way and struck glory in the famous attacks on Karachi during the 1971 war. The command has been home to indigenous ship construction and the original “Make in India” movement. The Nilgiri Class
Leander Frigates became proud war horses of a young Navy. These were subsequently augmented progressively over the next few decades with the Godavari Class Guided Missile Frigates and the Delhi Class Destroyers. INS Kochi, the latest and largest destroyer commissioned in 2015 is a continuing saga of this indigenous drive for maritime capability and power.
From its humble beginnings the Command has grown in strength into a capable and vibrant war fighting organisation which handles the operational and administrative control of a large number of afloat and shore based units. The Flag Officer Commanding-in- Chief, Western Naval Command is responsible for the entire Western Coast from Gujarat till Karwar. The Commander-in-Chief is a Vice Admiral ranked officer with four Rear Admirals, one each in charge of the naval areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka respectively. They enhance operational and administrative impact in their respective naval areas.
The Command boasts of state of the art warships, aircraft and submarines. These are organised into effective operational formations. The Western Fleet has a taut mix of aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and logistics support ships. The 22 Missile Vessel Squadron has the latest Prabal Class and Veer Class 1241 RE Missile vessels. There are Local flotillas based at Mumbai, Porbandar, Goa and Karwar. In addition there are auxiliary vessels, offshore patrol vessels, fast attack crafts and fast interceptor craft among other waterborne assets. These warships are augmented with a variety of aviation assets, both as integral flights as well as embarked squadrons. The submarine are organised into squadrons under the Commodore Commanding Submarines (West).
The shore infrastructure has undergone a modern revamp and is constantly being upgraded to support the deployed operational assets. WNC units are being manned by extremely motivated and well trained officers and men. The ships are deployed round the year for various operations varying from patrol of the pirate infested waters of the Gulf of Aden, presence and surveillance missions, western fleet exercises, evacuation of stranded Indians from crisis torn countries, overseas deployments to passage exercises with Navies of friendly countries. Today the Western Naval Command has a preeminent position and combat worthy to tackle any eventuality in the maritime areas of interest.
Apart from operational activities the Western Naval Command has been in the forefront to render relief and aid to the civil authorities. Ships and aircraft of the Command have time and again rescued crew of stranded merchant ships from around Mumbai. Other organisations such as the Naval Dockyard, the Material Organisation and INHS Asvini are among a range of units that provide the technical, material and medical cover to the operational effectiveness of WNC.
The Western Naval Command is poised to move ahead to uphold the aspirations of a modern and vibrant India with an alert eye and readiness to usher maritime effectiveness on the Western Seaboard and beyond.