Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the new Naval Ensign (flag) at Kochi which bears the seal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who laid the foundations of a modern navy.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj put great emphasis on sea-faring prowess, and laid the foundations of a modern naval force in the 17th century.
- The Indian Navy has always acknowledged this fact, and has named a training establishment in Lonavla as INS Shivaji and a shore based logistics and administrative hub of Western Naval Command, Mumbai, as INS Angre after Kanhoji Angre, the acclaimed Maratha naval commander.
- The use of the octagonal design of the seal of Shivaji on the new Naval Ensign is a formal stamp on the umbilical ties of the Indian Navy with the navy of the Maratha empire.
Naval prowess of Maratha Empire –
- Shivaji’s strategic thought ensured that a strong naval presence was established along the Konkan coast to protect the sea trade of the Maratha empire.
- Shivaji built ships in towns such as Kalyan, Bhivandi, and Goa, both for trade and to establish a fighting navy.
- He also built a number of sea forts and bases for repair, storage and shelter. Shivaji fought many lengthy battles with Siddis of Janjira on coastline.
- The fleet grew to reportedly 160 to 700 merchant, support and fighting vessels. He started trading with foreigners on his own after possession of eight or nine ports in the Deccan.
Who was Kanhoji Angre?
- Kanohji Angre was the commander of Maratha navy, and is credited with laying a strong naval foundation which ensured that the Marathas were a sea-faring power to reckon with.
- Kanhoji is credited with holding his own against the English, Portuguese and Dutch naval forces.
- He ensured that the merchants plying their trade for the Maratha empire were protected on the seas. He set up a base in Colaba with more bases at Suvarndurg and Vijaydurg near Ratnagiri.
- In the estimation of many historians, Kanhoji was the greatest naval commander in pre-modern Indian history.
Other naval empires –
Before the Marathas, the Cholas had a formidable sea-faring fleet of ships which, though not being strictly warships, were able to lead expeditions all around the Bay of Bengal.