An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the College of Defence Management, Secunderabad, and, the Royal College of Defence Studies, London, Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, IN (Retd) is the former Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) of the Republic of India, and, on 07 June 2019, took office as the incumbent Chairman of the National Maritime Foundation (NMF).
The admiral, who continuously distinguished himself in an illustrious naval career spanning four decades, demitted office as the 23rd Chief of the Naval Staff, upon his retirement from active service within the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy, on the 31st of May, 2019. He has been a specialist in Navigation and Aircraft Direction, his sea-going service has incorporated successful tenures the Navigation, Direction and Operations Officer aboard several ships in the Eastern- and Western Fleets of the Indian Navy. His subsequent sea tenures have included the command of the Kakinada — a specialised Mine Countermeasures Vessel; the Himgiri — an indigenous Leander Class Frigate; INS Ranvijay — a Rajput Class Guided-missile Destroyer, and, INS Mumbai, an indigenous Delhi Class Guided-missile Destroyer. He has also been the Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier, the Viraat, and served with great distinction as the Fleet Operations Officer of the Western Fleet.
He has also tenanted a number of critical appointments ashore, in various headquarters, operational and training establishments, as also tri-Service institutions. With multiple tenures on the training staff of India’s premier training establishments, Admiral Lanba has been deeply engaged with professional training, the shaping of India’s future leadership, and, the skilling of the officers of the Indian Armed Forces.
As the Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command in the rank of Rear Admiral, he was responsible for the transformation of the training methodology for the future Indian Navy. Rear Admiral Lanba was thereafter appointed Flag Officer Sea Training and ushered-in a whole slew of measures to greatly enhance the battle-effectiveness of Indian warships, and rationalised their combat manning. Later, as the Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra and Gujarat Naval Area, he implemented significant coastal-security initiatives and multiagency coordination mechanisms, which have since ensured safe seas and secure coasts along India’s western seaboard.
As a Vice Admiral, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Eastern Naval Command, and, thereafter, took over as the Commandant of the prestigious National Defence College, New Delhi. Taking office as the Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, the admiral streamlined the framework for transformation of the Navy’s combat capabilities and infrastructure development. The several tri-Service initiatives that he launched have made a lasting contribution towards integration and jointness.
He assumed command of the Indian Navy on the 31st of May, 2016. He was appointed Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee on the 31st of December, 2016, and his contribution to tri-Service synergy is legendary.
For his exceptional services to a grateful nation, the President of the Republic of India awarded Admiral Lanba the Ati Vishist Seva Medal, subsequently honouring him with the additional award of a Param Vishist Seva Medal.