INS Virbahu was commissioned as the shore support base for submarines on 19 May 1971. With the commissioning of INS Virbahu the 8th Submarine Squadron of Vela (Foxtrot) class submarines was based here. The Commanding Officer INS Virbahu was also designated as the Captain submarines 8th Submarine Squadron. Thereafter, with the induction of the Sindhughosh (EKM) class submarines, the 11th Submarine Squadron was created. As two Submarine Squadrons were based at Visakhapatnam comprising of eight submarines the scope of responsibility of the Commanding Officer, INS Virbahu increased many fold. The submarines were thus placed under the operational control of Captain Submarines, 8th and 11th Submarine Squadron. With the increase of the number and type of submarines the operational authority of Submarine Squadrons was elevated from Captain Submarines to Commodore Submarines in Apr 1990. Since the appointment of the Commodore Submarines had a command responsibility towards the submarines the appointment was thus re-christened as Commodore Commanding Submarines (East Coast) in Jun 1997. Initially all training, maintenance, operational and logistic matters pertaining to submarines were dealt by Virbahu. As the Arm expanded, the training role was taken over by INS Satavahana and the Class Authority functions by Submarine Headquarters. But the attachment to the old Alma Mater persists and Virbahu continues to be regarded as the 'Home of the Dolphins' even today.
Functions / Roles
The functions of INS Virbahu are as follows : -
- To provide administrative and logistic support to the Submarine Squadrons, FOSM staff, AMT and submarines as applicable.
- To provide accommodation, messing, welfare and recreational facilities to Submarine Squadrons, FOSM staff, AMT and the crews of submarines as applicable.
- To provide medical and dental cover to Submarine Squadrons and submarine crews as applicable.
- To provide lay apart stores to submarines.
- To provide berthing and unberthing facilities to submarines.