India’s peninsular character and geographical centrality coupled with its rich maritime tradition has historically reinforced its influence in the Indian Ocean Region. The Indian Navy has grown steadily and surely, from a fledgling surface flotilla at Independence,
into a potent, multi-dimensional, balanced and professional force. It continues to remain the foremost manifestation of India’s maritime power and plays a pivotal role in safeguarding and promoting her security and national interests in the maritime domain. Commensurate with its steadily expanding mandate and increasing significance to national security, the Navy’s operational foot print has extended well into the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.
With the release of India’s revised maritime military strategy titled ‘Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy’ in 2015, the Indian Navy brought to the fore, the emphasis on India’s maritime security and its ability to engage with friendly countries and shape the maritime environment in the Indian Ocean Region. This is in consonance with the enunciated Indian Ocean policy of the nation, ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) as brought out by the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in March 2015.
The Indian Navy participated in its maiden overseas deployment in support of UN Humanitarian Relief Operations between December 1992 and October 1993 for ‘Operation Muffet’ in Somalia. This was followed by ‘Operation Shield’ and ‘Operation Bolster’ in 1994 for the de-induction of Army troops from Kismayo and Mogadhishu respectively. In October 1999, a coordinated effort by Indian Navy led to the rescue of a pirated Japanese cargo ship MV Alondra Rainbow and triggered the robust anti-piracy measures that are in place even today.
Recent years have seen the Indian Navy undertake numerous humanitarian missions. A notable operation was the aid provided in the wake of the devastating Tsunami in Southeast Asia in Dec 2004, when 36 ships were deployed for aid in India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia. Humanitarian Missions in the recent past include ‘Operation Sukoon’ for the evacuation of personnel from the conflict zone of Lebanon in 2006, ‘Operation Safe Homecoming’ for the evacuation of Indian, Sri Lankan and Nepalese citizens from Libya during the civil war in 2011 and ‘Operation Rahat’ for the evacuation of approximately 5600 Indian and foreign nationals from war-torn Yemen. In December 2014.
Indian Naval Ships were the first responders to Maldives’ urgent request for assistance, and stayed on to provide a continuous supply of fresh water till normalcy was restored, in ‘Operation Neer’.The Indian Navy also provided immediate humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka in May 2016 during Cyclone ‘Roaun’ as also to Bangladesh in June 2017 during Cyclone ‘Mora’.
With the Indian Navy’s mission based deployment pattern presently in vogue, critical sea lanes of communications and choke points in the Indian Ocean Region would be under the vigil of IN ships round the year. This would ensure that any incident across the spectrum of operations ranging from acts of maritime terrorism and piracy to Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) are adequately dealt with. The Indian Navy continues to shape the maritime narrative and work in tandem with friendly littoral nations towards enhancing maritime security and safety in the Indian Ocean region as a net security provider.