Mumbai: Vice Admiral Surinder Pal Singh Cheema took over as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Western Naval Command, the sword arm of the Indian Navy, from Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, who attained superannuation here on Tuesday.
Vice Admiral Chopra was given a warm send-off with the traditional ‘Pulling Out’ ceremony to mark his four decades-plus service to the Indian Navy.
Vice Admiral Cheema is a seasoned campaigner with the unique distinction of shouldering responsibilities as a Commander-in-Chief for the fourth time, a record of sorts in the Indian armed forces.
He has also served in Mumbai in various capacities in the past four decades and has commanded five frontline ships, including the missile boat INS Nishank, the guided missile frigate INS Trishul and the only aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy at that time, INS Viraat, all three based in Mumbai.
As the C-in-C, he headed the Tri-Services Headquarters at Delhi as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and also as Principal Staff officer at the Tri-Service Headquarters.
He later headed the Strategic Forces Command, another Tri-Services appointment, which is responsible for the country’s nuclear forces.
He was assigned to head the Southern Naval Command at Kochi in June 2014.
Commissioned in the Indian Navy in January 1977, Vice Admiral Cheema is a graduate of the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla (Maharashtra) and an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai, with specialization in missile and gunnery.
Having rich and varied experience spanning extended tenures at sea and operational billets, Vice Admiral Cheema has been honoured with the Param Vishist Seva Medal, the Ati Vishist Seva Medal, a Mention in Despatches for duty in the face of enemy during the Sri Lanka operations in 1989 and the Nau Sena Medal for Gallantry while commanding INS Nishank.