Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, meanwhile, celebrated Diwali with sailors in the strategically important Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Friday.

Since the stand-offs began with China in May and situation worsened after the June 15 brawl in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed, the Navy has ramped up its operational readiness.

Its warships have stepped up patrolling in the strategically important Straits of Malacca near Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This move was obviously aimed at sending a message to China that the Navy can choke the Malacca Straits if need be. More than 70 per cent of energy supplies of China pass through this sea lane and it knows that India is in a very strong position there.

Moreover, the second phase of the Malabar exercise comprising four Quad nations next week may take place in the seas around Andaman and Nicobar. The first phase from November 3 to 6 was held off Visakhapatnam with the navies of India, US, Australia and Japan carrying out the drills.

The next phase may see India deploying its aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya while the US may deploy its nuclear powered aircraft carrier Nimitz. China had objected to the inclusion of Australia in the Malabar exercise claiming it will militarise the coalition and have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region.

In this backdrop, the Navy chief reviewed the operational readiness of the force during the visit to Port Blair. It also houses the tri-service command of Army, Navy and IAF.

The Navy said Singh visited INS Baaz , the naval air station located at Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar Island. The visit was aimed to express solidarity with personnel on the occasion of Diwali.

The tri-service command chief Lt General Manoj Pande briefed the Navy chief on the operational preparedness and infrastructure aspects of the Command, including readiness in the prevalent security scenario.

During his interaction with personnel at INS Baaz, the Navy chief acknowledged their contribution in keeping the strategically important base operational at all times. Personnel from Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Coast Guard, DSC and GREF, as well as Defence civilians were present during this occasion.

The geo-strategically located Air Station, INS Baaz, overlooks critical International Sea Lanes passing through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The Airbase supports operations of a multitude of military aircraft, which enable surveillance over the Southern Bay of Bengal, South Andaman Sea, Malacca Straits and the Southern Indian Ocean.

INS Baaz provides Aid to Civil Authorities, including Casualty Evacuation, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Search and Rescue and also serves as a supporting base for operational turn-around facilities of ships deployed in the Nicobar Group of Islands.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to spend Diwali on Saturday with soldiers on the border. He may visit some forward bases in Rajasthan and Gujarat to boost the morale of the troops.

He will be continuing with his tradition of spending time with soldiers on Diwali ever since he took charge as the Prime Minister in 2014. This time round, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane may also accompany the Prime Minister, sources said here on Friday.

As regards the Prime Minister’s likely visit, it may be mentioned here after assuming charge of the top post in 2014, he celebrated Diwali then at the Siachen Glacier.

Last year, Modi visited Jammu & Kashmir’s Rajouri district to celebrate Diwali with soldiers guarding the LoC. The year before, he was in Uttarakhand. In 2017, he spent the festival of lights with soldiers posted at Gurez sector of north Kashmir.

The proposed visit on Saturday will be the second time this year that Modi will interact with troops. In July, he made a surprise visit to a forward post in Ladakh at the height of a border confrontation with China following a clash on June 14 when 20 soldiers died for the country at Galwan Valley. He addressed the troops there.