NEW DELHI: With the dramatic rise in targeted attacks on merchant vessels transiting through international shipping lanes in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Central / North Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy has beefed up maritime surveillance. Warships and surveillance aircraft have been deployed in view of the heightened threat perception, Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said on Sunday.
The development comes after back-to-back attacks on merchant vessels. On December 23, MV Chem Pluto carrying 20 Indian crew members was hit by a drone off India’s west coast. On the same day, MV Sai Baba, which was on its way to India came under a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea. Earlier, merchant ship MV Ruen was hijacked and taken to the territorial waters of Somalia.
“Task groups comprising destroyers and frigates have been deployed to undertake maritime security operations and render assistance to merchant vessels in case of any incident. Aerial surveillance by long-range maritime patrol aircraft and RPAs (remotely piloted aircraft) has been enhanced to have complete maritime domain awareness,” Madhval said.
The deployment into the Arabian Sea includes Navy’s missile destroyers INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, INS Mormugao, INS Chennai, and INS Visakhapatnam. INS Kolkata is deployed on the mouth of the Red Sea; INS Kochi in south of Yemen Socotra Island; INS Mormugao in west Arabian sea; and INS Chennai in Central Arabian sea. INS Visakhapatnam was moved in early this week and was tasked to patrol the north Arabian Sea.
The Indian Navy has also deployed Boeing-made P8I multi-mission aircraft along with long endurance Sea Guardian drone to constantly survey the vessels in Arabian Sea and up to Gulf of Aden to identify suspicious ships. These assets have been pressed into service to keep the sea lanes of communication between Bab el-Mandeb to Indian coast safe for merchant shipping and missile attack taking place in West Asia.