Indian Navy deputy chief Vice Admiral M.S. Pawar, who spearheaded the planning and execution of deployment of the Indian Navy’s warships in the most challenging conditions — India-China border dispute and the Covid-19 pandemic — hangs up his boots.
He relinquished office on Monday.
Vice Admiral Pawar assumed charge as Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff on January 30, 2019. An alumnus of Sainik School Korukonda and the 60th course of National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune, he was commissioned on July 1, 1982. During the ab initio training, he was adjudged ‘Best all round Cadet’ and also stood first overall in the year long Sub Lieutenant Technical Courses. He later specialised in Navigation and Direction topping the coveted and highly competitive course.
During his tenure as deputy chief, he ensured that the force remains combat ready and mission deployed even in the most challenging situations – Galwan Standoff and the pandemic.
The armed forces rose in unison, facing both the adversaries in the eye. While the Army and Air Force were deployed on the Northern border, the Indian Navy had its ships deployed across the Indian Ocean Region from the Persian Gulf in the west to the Malacca and the Sunda Straits in the east.
Amid this, Vice Admiral Pawar successfully carried out two major humanitarian missions — Operation Samudra Setu and Mission Sagar.
The warships were deployed on two major humanitarian missions. During Operation Samudra Setu, four warships bring back almost 4,000 stranded Indian citizens back to India in the most trying conditions. During Mission Sagar, Indian Navy deployed its ships to provide Covid and food Relief to the countries across the Indian Ocean Region (Asia, Africa and South East Asia).
This too was done at a time when the world was still taking stock of the Covid-19 pandemic and warships themselves were affected by the coronavirus.
This year too, with the second wave of the Covid-19, he ensured the force step up its operations to bring the much needed Oxygen consignment from the Persian Gulf in the West to the South East Asia in the East.
Operation Samudra Setu II was launched by Indian Navy in April end and so far nine warships have brought 910 MT of Liquid Medical Oxygen and more than 10,000 Oxygen cylinders.
Barely had the second wave of Covid-19 shown some signs of receding, the west coast of India was hit by one of the worst cyclones in the recent history. Here too, the timely and daring action by the navy warships averted a catastrophic disaster, two Indian Naval warships sailed out in major cyclonic conditions to save the crew of ONGC barges — P305 & GAL Contractor.
These ships, under extremely harsh weather conditions and rough seas managed to save 188 lives through non-stop search and rescue operations for over 72 hours.
The Indian Navy continued to remain deployed on various operations viz Op Sankalp, Anti Piracy Patrol, Malacca Strait patrol etc to safeguard the National Interest as well as bring relief to the Indian merchant shipping in the form of safe transit.
He has held various challenging Staff and Command assignments during his distinguished naval career and has had wide ranging experience of over 25 years in sea going billets onboard diverse platforms ranging from small ships to aircraft carrier.
He was the Navigating Officer of INS Magar during Op Pawan in Sri Lanka, the Fleet Navigating Officer of the Western Fleet during Kargil War and the Fleet Operations Officer of Western Fleet when the IN commenced anti piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.
He has commanded Indian Naval Ships Nashak as the commissioning CO, Kuthar, Talwar and the Mauritius National Coast Guard Ship Vigilant – the senior ship of the No 1 Patrol Vessel Squadron.
He was also the Commandant of the Mauritius National Coast Guard, during 2003. His Joint Service tenures include instructor at the National Defence Academy and Deputy Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Maritime) at HQIDS.
On promotion to Flag Rank, he has held the key assignments of Flag Officer Sea Training, Chief of Staff of Southern Naval Command and Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra and Gujarat Area (FOMAG).
As Vice Admiral, he has been the Director General Project Seabird and Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command.
An alumnus of the Royal Naval Staff College, UK; College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai and National Defence College, Delhi, he has won awards at each of these institutions including the prestigious Herbert Lott Prize at Royal Naval Staff college, Greenwich, UK.
The Admiral also holds a double MPhil in Defence and Strategic Studies from Universities of Mumbai and Madras. He was awarded commendations by the Chief of Naval Staff and also by the Commissioner of Police, Mauritius in 2003.