Naval Aviation gets prestigious President’s Colour, the highest honour bestowed on a military unit for exceptional service to the nation

Published : September 07, 2021 20:11 IST

President Ram Nath Kovind presenting the President's Colour to Naval Aviation at a ceremonial function held at the INS Hansa base. Photo: By Special Arrangement

President of India Ram Nath Kovind, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, presented the prestigious President’s Colour on September 6 to one of India’s finest fighting arms, Indian Naval Aviation, the aviation branch of the Indian Navy. The President’s Colour, which is the highest honour bestowed on a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation both in peace and in war, was presented to Naval Aviation at a ceremonial function held at the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Hansa base, located in the town of Vasco, about 40 kilometres from the Goa State capital Panaji.

The President’s Colour consists of a 36-inch by 48-inch white ensign with the National Flag in the canton and the state emblem embroidered in gold at the centre. The elephant, signifying strength, is placed diagonally opposite the national flag in the canton.

Over the past 68 years Naval Aviation has distinguished itself with notable and gallant service to the country. Incidentally, the navy was the first among the Indian Armed Forces to be awarded the President's Colour, on May 27, 1951, by the then President Dr Rajendra Prasad. Subsequent recipients of the President’s Colour in the Navy include the Southern Naval Command, the Eastern Naval Command, the Western Naval Command, the Eastern Fleet, the Western Fleet, the Submarine Arm, INS Shivaji and the Indian Naval Academy.

Naval Aviation came into being with acquisition of the first Sealand aircraft in January 1951 and the commissioning of INS Garuda at Kochi in May 1953. Today, the Navy’s air fleet boasts of nine air stations and three naval air enclaves along the Indian coastline and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Over the decades, Naval Aviation has been awarded with one Mahavir Chakra, six Vir Chakras, one Kirti Chakra, seven Shaurya Chakras, one Yudh Seva Medal and a large number of Nao Sena Medals.

Over the past 68 years Naval Aviation has transformed into a modern, technologically advanced and highly potent force, with more than 250 aircraft comprising frontline fighters. Today, Naval Aviation’s assets are capable of undertaking missions along the entire gamut of military operations. Said a spokesperson for the Navy: “Naval Aviation is a vital component of the main roles essayed by the Indian Navy, be it military, diplomatic, constabulary or benign.”

Marking the momentous occasion, a ceremonial parade with a 150-men Guard of Honour was presented to President Ram Nath Kovind. Also present at the function were P.S. Sreedharan Pillai, the Governor of Goa; Dr Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister of Goa; Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State for Tourism, Ports Shipping and Waterways; Admiral Karambir Singh, the Chief of the Naval Staff; Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command; and Rear Admiral Philipose G. Pynumootil, Flag Officer Naval Aviation.

Speaking on the occasion, President Ram Nath Kovind recalled the glorious contribution of the Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which, with its integral aircraft, played a crucial role in the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh. The President added that naval aircraft have also been at the forefront of numerous humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, providing relief to friendly foreign nations as well.