Indian Navy History, Ranks, Ships, and Facts You Should Know

What is the history of Indian Navy? Its rank structure, Ships, Who started the navy in India, What is the motto? Are these questions also bothering you? If yes this article will clear your each and every doubt regarding the Indian Navy. Read on.

The Glorious History of the Indian Navy

According to Wikipedia, The Indian Navy has a rich history dating back to 5,000 years ago, during the Indus Valley civilization. And we can find traces of the Indian Navy both before and after the classical ages.

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navy in india in medieval times, maratha empires

There are significant mentions of it in Arthashastra by Chanakya, the Gupta Empire, the Chola Dynasty, Kozhikode, and the revolutionary Maratha Empire.

3000 BCEThe inhabitants of the Indus Valley civilization initiated maritime trading contact with Mesopotamia.
2300 BCEThe first tidal dock in India was built at Lothal during the Indus Valley civilization.
2nd millennium BCEThe Rig Veda credits Varuna with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes naval expeditions.
4th century BCEKautilya mentions the protection of the kingdom’s shipping and the destruction of those threatening it.
15th centuryThe Marakkar Navy under Zamorins fights with rival Indian powers and European trading companies.
17th and 18th centuriesThe Maratha Navy fights with rival Indian powers and European trading companies.
1830Bombay Marine becomes Her Majesty’s Indian Navy.
1857The Royal Indian Marine was established after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
1947Part of the Royal Indian Navy is allotted to the new state of Pakistan; the remaining forces take the title of Indian Navy.
1961The Indian Navy takes part in Operation Vijay.
1965 and 1971The Indian Navy takes part in wars with Pakistan.
2018The Indian Navy takes part in Operation Madad, which provides assistance to the flood-affected people of Kerala.
The history of the Indian Navy from the Indus Valley civilization to the modern age

The Royal Indian Navy played a significant role in World War II after its formation in 1934.

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Navy after Independence

After India’s independence in 1947, India and Pakistan divided the Royal Indian Navy. India officially established the Indian Navy on January 26, 1950

One of the most important events in the history of the Indian Navy was the Royal Indian Navy revolt of 1946. The revolt began on February 18, 1946, in Bombay, when Indian sailors on HMIS Talwar protested against the low quality of food and racial discrimination by British officials. The revolt quickly spread to other naval establishments across the country and eventually involved over 20,000 sailors in 78 ships and shore establishments.

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British soldiers and Royal Navy warships suppressed the uprising with force, and only the Communist Party supported the strikers.

The Indian Navy has played a crucial role in various conflicts and operations since its inception. It took part in Operation Vijay in 1961, wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, and in more recent operations of a smaller scale.

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The Indian Navy has also participated in humanitarian and disaster relief operations. For instance, Operation Madad in 2018, helped provide assistance to the flood-affected people of Kerala.

The Rank Structure of the Indian Navy

The Indian Navy has a well-defined rank structure for its officers, junior commissioned officers (JCOs), and non-commissioned officers (NCOs).

indian navy rank structure and insignia

The following table lists the ranks of the Indian Navy in descending order of seniority:

RankTime in ServiceInsignia
Admiral3 years as Vice AdmiralThree gold stars above a crossed baton and a naval anchor.
Vice Admiral2 years as Rear AdmiralTwo gold stars above a crossed baton and a naval anchor.
Rear Admiral2 years as CommodoreOne gold star above a crossed baton and a naval anchor.
Commodore4 years as CaptainOne gold star above a crossed baton and a naval anchor.
Captain3 years as CommanderFour gold stripes.
Commander4 years as Lieutenant CommanderThree gold stripes.
Lieutenant Commander13 years of commissioned serviceTwo gold stripes.
Lieutenant6 years of commissioned serviceOne gold stripe.
Sub LieutenantOne thick gold stripe.
MidshipmanNo insignia.
Master Chief Petty Officer Ist ClassA gold and red fouled anchor with a crown above it.
Master Chief Petty Officer IInd ClassA gold and red fouled anchor.
Chief Petty OfficerA gold-fouled anchor.
Petty OfficerA silver fouled anchor.
Leading RateA silver anchor.
Seaman Ist ClassA silver crossed anchor and a coil of rope.
Seaman 2nd ClassA silver anchor.
The Rank Structure of the Indian Navy

Important Ships & Vessels of the Indian Navy

Here is a table consisting of some of the important Ships and vessels of the Indian Navy.

Important Ships & Vessels of the Indian Navy

This is not an exhaustive list, but it includes some of the most important ships and vessels currently in service with the Indian Navy. 

Aircraft CarrierINS Vikrant, INS Vikramaditya
Amphibious Transport DockINS Jalashwa
Tank Landing ShipINS Gharial, INS Shardul, INS Kesari, INS Airavat, INS Kumbhir
DestroyerINS Visakhapatnam, INS Kolkata, INS Chennai, INS Kochi
FrigateINS Shivalik, INS Sahyadri, INS Kamorta, INS Kiltan
Nuclear-powered Ballistic Missile SubmarineINS Arihant, INS Arighat
Conventionally Powered Attack SubmarineINS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vela, INS Vagir, INS Sindhughosh, INS Sindhuraj, INS Sindhuratna, INS Sindhukesari, INS Sindhukirti, INS Sindhuvijay, INS Sindhurashtra, INS Shishumar, INS Shankush, INS Shalki, INS Shankul
CorvetteINS Kora, INS Kirch, INS Kulish, INS Kadmatt
Landing Craft UtilityINS LCU 51, INS LCU 52, INS LCU 53, INS LCU 54, INS LCU 55, INS LCU 56, INS LCU 57, INS LCU 58
Large Offshore Patrol VesselINS Saryu, INS Sunayna, INS Sumedha, INS Suvarna, INS Sujata, INS Sarathi, INS Shardul
Fleet TankerINS Jyoti, INS Shakti, INS Deepak, INS Aditya, INS Darshak
Mine Countermeasure VesselINS Karwar
Patrol VesselINS Sukanya, INS Sankalp, INS Sujan, INS Amrit Kaur, INS Aryaman, INS Atulya, INS Atya, INS Akshay, INS Abhay, INS Ajay, INS Anagh, INS Ankit, INS Anuj, INS Anushakti, INS Anuvad, INS Anupam, INS Aniruddh, INS Anil, INS Anirudh, INS Anmol, INS Anup, INS Ansh
Training ShipINS Tarangini, INS Sudarshini, INS Tir
Survey VesselINS Sandhayak, INS Darshak
Important ships and vessels of the Indian Navy, their type, and induction.

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Who Started the Navy in India?

No individual is associated with starting the navy in India, making it difficult to answer the question of who started it. Since the Indus Valley Civilization, the Navy in India has used and altered its roots as per the conditions.

Although, Maritime powers in the Indian subcontinent have possessed navies for many centuries. Indian dynasties such as the Cholas used naval power to extend their influence overseas, particularly to Southeast Asia.

The Marakkar Navy under Zamorins during the 15th century and the Maratha Navy of the 17th and 18th centuries fought with rival Indian powers and European trading companies. The East India Company organized its own navy, which came to be known as the Bombay Marine.

With the establishment of the British Raj after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the small navy was transformed into “His Majesty’s Indian Navy”, then “Her Majesty’s Indian Marine”, and finally the “Royal Indian Marine”.

The Indian Navy Motto and it’s meaning

The motto of the Indian Navy is “Sham No Varuna,” which means “May the Lord of Water be auspicious unto us” in Sanskrit. The motto is based on a verse from the Rig Veda, the ancient Hindu scripture of the sea.

Indian Navy Motto and it's meaning

The phrase was adopted as the motto of the Indian Navy at the suggestion of Shri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, the first Indian Governor-General of Independent India. The Indian Navy’s crest features a traditional naval clear anchor below the Ashoka Lion Head with the motto inscribed below it.

Other Important Advancements

In 1612, the first squadron of battleships, initially under the Marine Corps of the East India Company, arrived to protect the company’s trade routes in the Gulf of Khambhat and the Tapti and Narmada rivers.

With the acquisition of Bombay in 1665, the force extended its responsibilities to include the protection of trade in the region. Renamed Bombay Marine in 1686, the force played a crucial role in conflicts with European powers, and pirates, and participated in wars against the Marathas, Sindhis, and the Burma War in 1824.

In 1830, it became Her Majesty’s Indian Navy, actively involved in the China War in 1840. The navy continued to grow, experiencing name changes, furthermore in 1892, it was titled the Royal Indian Marine.

During World War I, it played a significant role in patrolling, carrying troops, and transporting war reserves. In 1934, it transformed into the Royal Indian Navy, witnessing substantial growth during World War II with 117 warships and 30,000 personnel.

At India’s independence in 1947, the Royal Indian Navy had 11,000 officers and personnel with 32 ships. The prefix ‘Royal’ was removed in 1950 when India became a republic.

Admiral Sir Edward Parry, KCB, was the first commander-in-chief, succeeded by Admiral Sir Mark Peezy, KBE, CB, DSO. Vice Admiral RD Katari assumed office as the first Indian Chief of the Navy on April 22, 1958.