Responding to the immense devastation caused by the fury of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, the Indian Navy carried out shipment of food supplies to the ravaged nation. Relief operations in the form of air shipment of essential supplies were first undertaken, in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone. The magnitude of the disaster required the Indian Navy to respond further and thus 5000 tons of rice, amongst other aid, were shipped by four Indian Navy ships from the Eastern Naval Command [ENC] based at Visakhapatnam. The unique qualities of flexibility & versatility enable Indian Navy ships to be at the forefront of any humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. During the devastating tsunami of December 2004, the Indian Navy had launched simultaneous operations to bring succor to not only the affected in India but also those in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Maldives. Indian Navy ships again in July 2006, responding to humanitarian urgency in war-torn Lebanon, undertook the onerous task of evacuating 2280 personnel.
During the ongoing relief operation, four amphibious ships of the Indian Navy - namely INS Gharial, INS Mahish, INS Cheetah and INS Kumbhir - have been actively involved in making shuttle service between Visakhapatnam and Chittagong. These amphibious warfare vessels are specifically designed for landing troops & equipment ashore, during naval operations. However, they can be adapted during calamities to carry relief and support material. A total of 1520 tons of rice has already been delivered at Chittagong and the complete operation to provide assistance would be completed by mid-January 2008.
Special Thanks to the Press Information Bureau, Government of India