Admiral Karambir Singh took charge as the 24th Chief of the Naval Staff on Friday, reported PTI. He succeeded Admiral Sunil Lanba, and will continue in the post till November 2021.

Singh is the first helicopter pilot to become the Navy chief. “Admiral Singh is the senior most Naval aviator,” an unidentified official told The Hindu. Before taking charge as the naval chief, Singh was the flag officer commanding-in-chief of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam.

Singh’s appointment, however, was mired in controversy after a senior officer challenged it. Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, approached the Armed Forces Tribunal in New Delhi, challenging the appointment on the grounds that his seniority had been overlooked. Verma is the most senior naval commander.

On Wednesday, a military tribunal allowed Singh to take over as Navy chief after deferring the hearing of Verma’s plea. “The AFT posted the matter for hearing on July 17 as government sought more time for placing records relating to Vice Admiral Singh’s appointment before the tribunal,” Verma’s advocate Ankur Chhibber had said.

As the Navy chief, Singh is expected to expedite the modernisation of the Navy by inducting new warships, submarines and aircraft. He is also likely to focus on expanding India’s presence in the Indian Ocean region.

The Army and the Indian Air Force will also get new chiefs this year. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa is set to retire in October while General Bipin Rawat will retire in December.