The Indian Navy is finalising a policy to induct more than 50 women fighter pilots into its service soon, The Hindu reported.

“The living conditions in the warships are different, and the Indian Navy has been trying to create an environment for women to sail and work on the ships,” Chief of Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Karambir Singh said in Visakhapatnam on Friday. Soon, women onboard the Indian Navy’s warships would work shoulder-to-shoulder with men, he said.

Another officer of the Eastern Naval Command said that the Indian Navy had designed the Shivalik Class ships to suit women officers.

The statement comes days after Uttar Pradesh resident Shubhangi Swaroop became the first woman to be inducted as a pilot in the Indian Navy.

Sex change not allowed

Karambir Singh referred to the sacking of a sailor who had undergone a sex change surgery, and said that the Indian Navy’s regulations did not allow such people to continue in service. India was part of a majority group of countries that did not allow gender reassignment during service, he said.

The Indian Navy sailor from Visakhapatnam Sabi Giri, who was born Manish Kumar Giri, was sacked from service on October 9, after she had a sex change surgery. Giri was discharged for “breaching recruitment regulations and eligibility criteria”. The Indian Navy restricts recruitment of women to certain departments. The post Giri held before her sex change surgery was only designated for men.

Strengthening sea force

“If all goes as per schedule, in 10 to 15 years, the Indian Navy will have a strong fleet of 198 ships, 450 aircraft, and a good number of submarines as part of the expansion and modernisation plan,” Singh said. “As of now, 34 ships are under construction at various shipyards in the country.” The Navy currently has a fleet of 134 ships, 250-odd aircraft and 13 submarines.

The new air defence ship, INS Vikrant, which is being built in Kochi will be assigned to the Eastern Naval Command, and Visakhapatnam would be its base of operations, he added.