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Next navy chief quick thinker, role model with love for tennis, singing

ByRahul Singh
Apr 19, 2024 05:55 PM IST

Tripathi will pick up the four-star rank and take over the top job on April 30 when Admiral R Hari Kumar retires

New Delhi: India’s next navy chief Vice Admiral Dinesh Kumar Tripathi enjoys a formidable reputation among his peers as a communication specialist who could solve relative velocity problems in his head while steering frontline warships in the right direction on the high seas with ease. Hardly surprising then that he excelled in career-advancing courses through his four-decade stint with the navy. But it was never all sailing and warships for Tripathi: Singing Kishore Kumar songs and playing spirited sessions of tennis and badminton gave him his much-deserved breaks on land.

India’s next navy chief Vice Admiral Dinesh Kumar Tripathi (MoD)
India’s next navy chief Vice Admiral Dinesh Kumar Tripathi (MoD)

The government named Tripathi as the next navy chief on Thursday night. He will pick up the four-star rank and take over the top job on April 30 when Admiral R Hari Kumar retires after heading the service for two years and five months. By appointing him as the chief, the government has followed the seniority principle --- Tripathi will be the senior-most officer in navy the day Kumar retires.

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He is currently the navy’s vice chief.

“As a communication specialist, he has always been the man on the ship’s bridge alongside the captain and the navigator. The communicator gets the signal, and he interprets where the ship needs to go. By the time the navigator could take the Battenberg course indicator for speed and distance calculations, Tripathi would have solved relative velocity problems in his head. He is that sharp,” said a senior officer who asked not to be named.

Also Read: Steel cut for navy’s first fleet support ship in indigenisation boost

In the early years of his service, the fleet commanders always felt that Tripathi’s ship was the “smartest one”, moving faster than the others and in the right direction, he added. “Before anyone could calculate the course, he would just tell the captain what course to steer.”

Tripathi’s love for sports, especially tennis and badminton, fitness, and singing is also well known in military circles. “He likes to sing Kishore Kumar songs,” said another officer. His wife, Shashi, is an artist and their son is a lawyer.

Known for his professionalism, integrity and remaining focused on the mission, Tripathi’s guiding mantra has always been putting the organisation first, said a third officer. “In his command roles, the admiral often told his officers and men to put in their best and enjoy what they were doing. He would also tell them that every action of theirs should be for the larger good of the organisation. He has been a role model for many,” he added.

Tripathi was the Western Naval Command chief before he was appointed the navy’s vice chief in January 2024 and had earlier served as the navy’s chief of personnel.

An alumnus of Sainik School, Rewa and National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, he was commissioned into the navy on July 1, 1985. A communication and electronic warfare specialist, he served on frontline warships as signal communication officer and electronic warfare officer, and later as the executive officer and principal warfare officer of guided missile destroyer INS Mumbai.

Apart from commanding warships such as INS Vinash, INS Kirch and INS Trishul, Tripathi has held a raft of key operational and staff appointments, including fleet operations officer of the Western Fleet, director of naval operations, principal director of network centric operations, and principal director, naval plans at New Delhi. His other past appointments include assistant chief of naval staff (policy and plans) and Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet.

After being promoted to vice admiral in June 2019, Tripathi was appointed commandant of the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala, Kerala. He also served as the director general of naval operations (DGNO) from July 2020 to May 2021; as DGNO, he ensured the navy remained a combat-ready and cohesive force to take on complex security challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He will take over the service at a time when the challenges in the distant seas include China’s carefully calculated power play for influence, defending the rules-based international order, and the Arabian Sea emerging as a new front with Red Sea tensions escalating and the resurgence of piracy.

Also Read: ‘No Indian ship attacked but situation in Red Sea volatile’: Navy Chief

In the new role, Tripathi will spearhead the navy’s modernisation with a sharp focus on indigenisation --- the navy is working on becoming fully self-reliant by 2047 when India celebrates 100 years of independence. His focus will be on ensuring the navy’s operational readiness and strengthening its capabilities to defend India’s maritime interests.

Tripathi, who turns 60 in May, will serve as the navy chief for two years and one month.

He is a graduate of the elite Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, and has attended the Naval Higher Command Course, Karanja, and the US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

More changes in the country’s top military leadership will follow as army chief General Manoj Pande will retire on May 31. Army vice chief Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi is the frontrunner for the top post as he will be the senior-most officer the day Pande retires.

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