New Delhi: Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba, commandant of National Defence College and in line to be the next Navy chief, has been appointed as Vice Chief of Naval Staff as part of a major rejig at the top level in the maritime force.
This is the first major announcement of appointments in the NDA regime but the recommendations for these postings had been made by former Defence Minister A K Antony. Lanba will take over as Navy chief in May 2016, when Admiral Robin Dhowan, who took over as the head of the force in April this year, retires.
As part of the reshuffle, Eastern Command chief Vice Admiral Anil Chopra has been moved to Mumbai-based Western Command, Navy officials said, adding Chopra will be succeeded by Vice Admiral Satish Soni, who is heading the Southern Command.
The Kochi-based Southern Command will now be headed by Strategic Forces Commander Vice Admiral SPS Cheema, while Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Pradeep Chatterjee will take over as the head the tri-services Andaman and Nicobar Command in Port Blair, officials said.
Vice Admiral RK Pattanaik has already taken over as the new Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and will be in-charge of operations in the force, they added.
The reshuffle at the top level was necessitated following the sudden exit of former Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi and Western commander Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha.
Joshi resigned on February 26, taking moral responsibility after the Navy was hit by a series of mishaps involving its submarines and other assets over the last 10 months. Vacancies were created at the top level, soon after Dhowan was appointed as the Navy chief, superceding Sinha, who sought voluntary retirement from the force.