DIAMOND HARBOUR: The Indian Navy will require quality men and women to serve as it turns into a larger service in the days to come, chief of naval staff (CNS) Admiral Sunil Lanba said at Diamond Harbour, nearly 55 km southwest of Kolkata, on Tuesday. He was inaugurating the Navy's fifth Services Selection Board (SSB) in the country and the first in eastern India.

It is still a tough task to join the Navy as a trial selection process at SSB Kolkata (the name for the SSB at Diamond Harbour) proved in October 2018. Of the 47 candidates who cleared their written exams and appeared for interviews, physical and psychological tests, only three were recommended. SSB Kolkata will start operating as a full-fledged centre from June 1 where around 5,000 candidates from the eastern and northeastern states are expected to turn up for the entry process every year.

"The port and shipyard in Kolkata have played a vital role in the development of the country and we want to reach out to the youth in the eastern and northeastern states. The Navy not only offers a great career opportunity but also a satisfying life, both for men and women. This SSB is among the best in the Navy and no efforts will be spared to maintain the highest standards. It is significant that a part of the facility has been earmarked for women. The country's stature is growing under the present government and we are already the largest Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In the days to come, it will be a larger service with more ships, submarines and aircraft. It will be a more potent Navy and we also want women to play a role. We will require the best youths to join the Navy," Admiral Lanba said. 

The CNS met the officers and staff of SSB Kolkata and urged them to maintain the highest standards. "I realise there are administrative challenges when operating from a remote location but all support will be provided by the Eastern Naval Command and naval headquarters in Delhi. You just need to maintain the highest level of professionalism. This is a matter of great responsibility as we require the best," he added.

The SSB is a prestigious institution for the state and will help in developing the economy of Diamond Harbour. Not only will the SSB require regular supplies but also generate employment, both direct and indirect. It would have been ready a couple of years ago had a contractor not used his political clout and stopped construction between July 2014 and August 2016 by moving court after being hauled up for poor performance. It took 36 hearings before the court ruled in favour of the Navy.

Later in the day, Admiral Lanba, accompanied by Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, FOC-in-C, Eastern Naval Command and CNS designate and Commodore Suprobho K De, NOIC, West Bengal, visited the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata and was taken around the Fitting Out Jetty (FOJ), where warships are completed and then handed over to the Navy or Coast Guard by Rear Admiral VK Saxena (Retd), chairman and managing director, GRSE. The CNS also went on board the INS Kavaratti, the fourth and last in a series of anti-submarine warfare corvettes that GRSE is building for the Navy. The ship is nearing completion and will be handed over to the Navy soon.

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