Navy 'thunder chest' on Konkan coast
"Missiles at INS Vajrakosh should always remain ready for operational deployment," said Parrikar.
Vajrakosh is part of "Project Seabird", conceived by the then navy chief, Admiral Oscar Dawson, in 1985 to de-congest Mumbai harbour and locate a naval base beyond the range of Pakistani fighter aircraft.
After delays, mostly because of environment issues and over resettlement of local inhabitants - a subject that Parrikar is familiar with having been chief minister of Goa - Vajrakosh, so called because it will be the repository of the navy's firepower, is now finally on stream.
Along with INS Kadamba that was commissioned in 2005, Vajrakosh will make for one of the largest military bases complete with two airstrips, submarine pens, a ship repair yard, a dry dock, jetties for two aircraft carriers and 50 warships. INS Kadamba has the only shiplift in the country - a giant platform that can lift ships up to 6,500 tonnes (all warships of the Indian Navy barring the aircraft carriers) and place them in a drydock.
The second phase of Project Seabird alone costs Rs 20,000 crore. The first cost Rs 5,000 crore.
The military base has come up along a fascinating coastline where the hills roll down to the sea. It has involved the acquisition of land in which coconut palms swayed gently and thousands of people had to be moved, their houses and temples razed in the North Karanataka district near the border with Goa.
A delegation of villagers met Parrikar after the commissioning and complained that they have not yet been compensated.
The navy chose the location for the natural defences the hills give it. Submarine pens - covered shelters for submarines that make them difficult to detect - are likely to be bored into the hillsides.
A similar base is in the works on the east coast. Called "Project Varsha", the navy plans to base most of its assets for the eastern seaboard a few kilometres south of Visakhapatnam that is currently the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command. Project Varsha involves the resurrection of a Second World War airstrip built by the Americans at Rambili.
Defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said Parrikar was briefed on the future expansion plans of Karwar Naval Base including a proposed air station. The navy wants the air base for its maritime surveillance P8i aircraft and as a base for its helicopters.
It was little wonder that Parrikar said Karwar would be one of the most environment-friendly establishments, given the recent history of displacement and development.
"Karwar will be one of the cleanest naval bases in the world with the least carbon footprint," he said.
In an official statement, the navy said units operating out of Karwar are required to be equipped with specialised armaments and missiles. These sophisticated missiles and ammunition require special storage facility and specialised servicing facilities.
INS Vajrakosh will have all the required infrastructure and is manned by specialists to meet these requirements.
"With the ongoing expansion of the Indian Navy, there has been an increase in the number of ships, submarines and aircraft equipped with specialised armament and missiles. These need to be stowed and maintained in the best possible manner throughout their service life," said the navy chief, Admiral Robin Dhowan.
WIND the clock back to late 2004.A 23-year-old Roger Federer had just completed his first truly phenomenal season, winning three of the four grand slams, including thumping Lleyton Hewitt 6-0 7-6 6-0 in the US Open final.
On December 12 of that year, Jesus Aparicio — a huge Federer fan — was in a serious car accident while out celebrating his 18th birthday.
The incident left the young man from Seville in a coma he would not wake from until August 27 this year.
When he finally woke, Aparicio called out and his mother was in the bathroom of the room he was staying in. Over the coming weeks, Aparicio’s speech slowly recovered. He would ask about family, friends and current affairs — but he would also ask about his idol, Roger Federer.
“It came like a flash to my mind and I asked about Roger,” Aparicio said, according to tennisworld.org.
“When I heard that he reached 17 slam titles, I put my hands on my face.
“I knew Federer was very good but I never thought he could win all he has won.”
Federer was comfortably the best player in the world when Aparicio’s accident occurred, but the Swiss master’s best was yet to come — going on to reach 10 of the next 12 grand slam finals, winning eight of them on his way to a record 17.
Earlier this month, on September 13, Aparicio would watch Federer — now 11 years older than the last time he saw him — take on a total stranger to him in Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open.
“I was astonished to see him play well. It’s really amazing,” Aparicio said.
“It was a shame he could not win but that Djokovic, he plays very well.”
“I want to see his match before he retires, perhaps his 18th slam,” Aparicio said. “It would be the dream of my life.”
According to Spanish site Punto de Break, Aparicio’s mother Rosario never gave up hope her son would one day wake.
“It was a very hard blow for everyone but we never stopped believing this day would come,” Rosario said.
“Every night I spoke in his ear and told him I was there with him.”