NEW DELHI: As part of the world’s biggest evacuation operation to bring back Indians stranded abroad due to the pandemic, four ships of the India Navy have already been pressed into service. While two of them—INS Airavat and INS Shardul— have already set sail for the Gulf, another two—INS Jalashwa and INS Magar—are en route to the Maldives, Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar told StratNews Global. In an exclusive interview to Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale, Adm Kumar said these ships can do multiple trips and, if need be, more warships are ready for deployment in what is called Operation Samudra Setu. If all goes as per plan, the ships sent to the Gulf can head back home with 250-275 evacuees (per ship) as early as tomorrow evening. The tentative travel time is three days and a half, he said, adding that the journey from Maldives would take less time (nearly two days) but INS Jalashwa can accommodate as many as 750 evacuees. And while the Navy carries out evacuation, it has taken care that its regular operational tasks are not hindered. As Adm Kumar says: “We have ensured that our guard isn’t put down at all”.
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