The Navy is understood to have given its stamp of
approval to a new deployment pattern that seeks to position warships and
aircraft along critical sea lanes of communication and choke points in the
Indian Ocean Region in the light of continued presence of Chinese naval assets
in the area for the past several months. The prominent choke points in the
Indian Ocean Area include Malacca straits, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Hormuz and
areas around Andaman Nicobar Islands.
The decision to scale up Indian navy's maritime
footprint is understood to have been taken at the opening day of the Naval Commanders’
Conference which commenced its four session at the National Capital on October
24, amid reports of growing sightings of Chinese naval ships in the Indian
The Conference – a biannual event - is aimed at
taking stock of navy’s combat readiness with focus on operational effectiveness
of combat platforms, logistics and development of shore support infrastructure
for sustaining high tempo operations.
The deployment of Chinese naval units in the
Indian Ocean is being closely monitored by the Indian Navy. It has sighted more
than a dozen Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean in May-June including
submarines, destroyers and intelligence-gathering vessels.
Anti-piracy patrols and freedom of Navigation
were the reasons cited by China for its rising presence in the region though
piracy activities in the region has come down drastically in the Indian Ocean
region for the last one year. In fact there have been no piracy activities in
the seas adjoining Somalia, an area known of acts of piracy for over a decade. Ironically,
China objects to freedom of navigation for other countries in South China Sea
but demands the same facility elsewhere including the Indian Ocean Region.
Under the new deployment model likely to be
implemented soon, around 15 Indian warships would be deployed from as far as
the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca and Northern Bay of Bengal to the Southeast
coast of Africa.
In July, China began deploying troops to its
first overseas naval base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, as part of its
expansion plan in the region which triggered concerns in India. The Djibouti
base will boost Beijing’s ability to sustain naval units in the Indian Ocean
The Indian Navy’s deployments are part of an
effort to meet any eventuality across the spectrum of operations including
maritime terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), human
trafficking, piracy and narcotics trade.
India has emerged as first responders in
humanitarian relief situations in the region on numerous occasions,” Defense Minister
Nirmala Sitharaman said at the 4th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM
Plus) in the Philippines recently.