Chinese research vessels operating in Indian Ocean pose a challenge, says Navy chief

These vessels have the ability to track and collect electronic signals. So, when they operate close to ‘our areas of national interest’, then it becomes a challenge.
India's Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar speaks at the Chanakya Dialogues in New Delhi on Saturday. (Photo | ANI )
India's Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar speaks at the Chanakya Dialogues in New Delhi on Saturday. (Photo | ANI )

NEW DELHI: Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar on Saturday highlighted a challenge due to Chinese research vessels, which otherwise are free to operate in international waters.

These vessels have the ability to track and collect electronic signals. So, when they operate close to ‘our areas of national interest’, then it becomes a challenge.

Indian Navy keeps an eye, and it has ships which monitor them very, very closely, he said while interacting at a seminar organised by the Chanakya Dialogues and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We are keeping a close watch in the Indian Ocean Region... and efforts are on to know of the presence of enemies and what are they up to, monitoring it 24x7,” the Navy chief said on Saturday.

It was in August 2022, when the Chinese spy ship ‘Yuan Wang-5’ had docked at Hambantota in Sri Lanka which had turned into a diplomatic row between India and Sri Lanka. Another vessel ‘Yuan Wang-6’ had entered IOR due to which Indian long-range missile launch had to be deferred. The vessel had re-entered the region in December when the missile test was rescheduled.

Enumerating the presence of the Chinese vessels he said, “There is a large presence of Chinese vessels. At any point of time, there are 3-6 Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR),”  and added some are close to the Gulf of Oman, and some in the eastern part of the IOR, among other places.

Chinese research vessels are ever present, numbering from 2-4 and Chinese fishing vessels as well. So, there is a large presence of Chinese vessels in the IOR, and the Indian Navy keeps track of it, he said.

“So, we refine our plans, actions that are required to be taken, and this also feeds into our capability development,” the Navy chief said.

About China, in the last 10 years, 148 ships and submarines have been commissioned by it in the last 10 years, the third aircraft carrier is under construction, and much larger destroyers they are working on, he said, adding, “we feel this will plateau at some time.”

The Indian Navy’s role is to protect, promote and preserve national interests in the maritime domain. And, a Navy has to be a “well-balanced force”, so, it’s not about nuclear submarines vis-a-vis aircraft carriers, as each of the two bring their own capabilities and they are “not either/or,” the Navy chief said.

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