“The future of the nation depends on the strength of its Navy.” 

John F. Kennedy

The Indian Navy Force is a key player in the Indian Ocean Region and largest Navy which not only safeguarding the nation’s interests but also extending its reach to provide assistance to vessels in distress across the seas. Moreover, the Indian Navy’s multifaceted approach to maritime security encompasses proactive initiatives aimed at pre-empting potential threats. Investments in new platforms, including aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers and frigates, have bolstered the Navy’s ability to project power and respond effectively to emerging threats and contingencies in the maritime domain. The Indian Navy’s commitment to aiding vessels in distress is exemplified by numerous instances where it has provided timely assistance to ships in need.

frigates of Indian navy force
ins vikrant

Indian Ocean’s Global Significance

Spanning nearly one-fifth of the world’s water surface, Indian Ocean Region (IOR) facilitates transit of an astounding 90,000 vessels and 9.84 billion tons of trade annually. This maritime highway carries 30% of world’s oil, fuelling economies while 7 trillion USD worth of goods traverse its waves, linking continents and cultures. Indian Ocean is a vital conduit of the global commerce through which a substantial portion of the world’s maritime trade is routed. 

Prevalent Maritime Outlook

Missile attacks by Houthi’s in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, surge in maritime piracy, drone attack on merchant vessels at sea etc have underscored the critical importance of maritime security. Amidst these tumultuous waters, the Indian Navy force is a beacon of stability and security as ‘Net Security Provider’ in the region. These events serve as poignant reminders of the Indian Navy’s indispensable role in safeguarding crucial maritime interests. The Indian Navy’s warships and submarines maintains a robust presence across the Indian Ocean Region. Further we will explore how Indian Navy is playing vital role in ensuring safe transit of trade in the Indian Ocean Region in present scenario and recent maritime operations undertaken

Recent Engagements of The Indian Navy Force

ins visakhapatnam

On January 18, 2024, Indian Navy’s stealth guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam has rescued the crew of the US ship Genco Picardy in the Gulf of Aden following a drone attack by Yemen’s Ansarallah forces. The Gulf of Aden, situated between Yemen and Somalia, serves as a crucial maritime corridor connecting the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea and beyond. INS Visakhapatnam, undertaking anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden, acknowledged the distress call and intercepted the vessel at 0030 hrs on January 18. Indian Navy explosive experts also performed assessment of area hit by the drone and assured panic crew of MV that vessel was safe for further transit.

On January 26, 2024 the British oil tanker MV Marlin Luanda was hit by anti-ship missile launched by the Houthis’. Indian Navy’s INS Visakhapatnam responded to a distress call from MV Marlin Luanda and arrived in the location with full speed. When INS Visakhapatnam reached in the area, it witnessed that British Oil tanker was engulfed in flames.  INS Visakhapatnam sent her personnel and material to MV Marlin for firefighting efforts. On receiving assistance from INS Visakhapatnam fire was controlled onboard the distressed Merchant Vessel. 22 Indian and 01 Bangladeshi crew of MV were indebted to Indian for expeditious aid. 

On January 29, 2024, Indian Navy’s inbuilt ‘Offshore Patrol Vessel’ INS Sumitra responded to a distress call of an Iranian flagged Fishing Vessel, Iman hijacked by pirates. INS Sumitra swung into action and arrived at the scene of action. INS Sumitra compelled pirates to surrender and successfully rescued the vessel and its 17 Iranian crew members on January 29, 2024. 

On January 29, 2024, again with no span of time INS Sumitra was called into action to intercept another hijacked Iranian flagged fishing vessel named Al Naeemi, which was held captive by pirates along with its 19 Pakistani crew members. Responding rapidly, INS Sumitra intercepted the vessel on January 29, 2024 and forced the safe release of the crew and the vessel. Within less than 36 hours, INS Sumitra successfully rescued two hijacked Fishing Vessels.

Ref: https://www.reuters.com/world/indian-navy-rescues-two-boats-somali-pirates-one-day-2024-01-30/  

Indian navy forces swiftly responded to distress calls from vessels at sea in recent incidents, employing a combination of navy assets and strategic acumen. This decisive intervention not only averted potential maritime disasters but also reaffirmed India’s commitment as net security provider in the Indian Ocean. These successful efforts underscore the Indian Navy’s capacity for global engagement and its unwavering dedication to maritime safety and security. The substantial growth of the Indian Navy assets have positioned it as only maritime force capable of addressing challenges and opportunities in the IOR and beyond. 

Harbinger of Hope

Through its proactive approach to its commitment to aiding vessels in distress, the Indian Navy continues to uphold contribution towards a more secure maritime environment for all. In the global chaos of maritime domain, the Indian Navy force is a formidable bulwark relied by all. Indian Navy’s role in safeguarding global maritime trade is indispensable, as it ensures the uninterrupted flow of commerce and uphold the rules of law at seas. Through its decisive actions and collaborative endeavours, the Indian Navy not only protects India’s maritime interests but also upholds the collective security of the Indian Ocean region and beyond. In an era defined by uncertainty and volatility, the Indian Navy is a glittering symbol of hope, ensuring that the Indian Ocean Region remains secure for generations to come.