SOURCE: TNN The government has announced a major reshuffle in the top ranks of the Navy, which will give Vice-Admiral Sunil Lanba the experience of commanding an operational command before he takes over as the next chief from Admiral Robin Dhowan on May 31, 2016. Vice-Admiral Lanba, the present vice-chief, will take over the reins of the southern naval command (SNC) on April 1. The present SNC flag officer commanding-in-chief Vice-Admiral S P S Cheema, will take over the western naval command (WNC) from Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, who retires on March 31. Vice-Admiral P Murugesan, the chief of personnel at the naval headquarters here, in turn, will be the next vice-chief of the force. The entire succession chain in the Navy, based on the seniority principle followed in the Indian armed forces, had gone haywire after admiral D K Joshi had quit as the Navy chief on February 26 last year owning “moral responsibility” for the string of warship accidents in the force. In the normal course of events, present eastern naval command (ENC) chief Vice-Admiral Satish Soni would have taken over as the chief if admiral Joshi had completed his three-year tenure till August 2015.But after his resignation, the then UPA government had appointed admiral Dhowan as the Navy chief on April 17 last year, superseding the then WNC chief Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, who in turn had then also put in his papers. Vice-Admiral Lanba, who was then the commandant of the National Defence College, was subsequently appointed the vice-chief. All officers senior to him, including Vice-Admirals Cheema, Soni and P K Chatterjee (Andaman & Nicobar command chief), will retire before Admiral Dhowan hangs his boots in May 2016.