Maritime Security

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  • Is the Submarine Arm Losing its Punch?

    The explosions that gutted INS Sindhurakshak during the early hours of 14 August 2013 caught the imagination of an entire nation that watched the brief footage of the catastrophic event on their television sets. Barring some minor accidents which resulted in structural damage, this is the most tragic incident involving loss of lives in the 46 year history of the submarine arm.

    January 2014

    INS Vikramaditya – Deployment Options for India

    With the INS Vikramaditya’s arrival in India, it is time to undertake a dispassionate assessment of the ship’s possible uses and deployment options. The Indian navy would be well served if it considered employing the ship in a ‘soft power projection’ role – as a versatile asset to be used in diplomacy and regional outreach, disaster relief and humanitarian missions.

    January 21, 2014

    Pranathi asked: What could be the motive behind certain counties demanding Ross Sea to be declared as a marine protected area?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: The proposal to declare the Ross Sea region as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) was put forth by New Zealand and the US in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting held in Hobart in 2012. In addition, a proposal to establish an MPA in the East Antarctica Area was also put forth by France, Australia and the EU. The proposals were also discussed in the special meeting of CCAMLR held in July 2013 in Germany. The proposals are still under consideration and would be discussed in further meetings. The proposed Ross Sea Region MPA encompasses roughly 2.27 million square kilometres. In 1.6 million square kilometres of the MPA, research fishing would be the only fishing permitted.

    The CCAMLR of 1980 is one of the three international agreements that along with the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 form the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). The other two agreements are Convention for Conservation of Antarctic Seals of 1972 (CCAS) and Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty of 1991 (Environment or Madrid Protocol). Both CCAMLR and CCAS look at protecting living creatures. All 50 signatory nations are bound to honour all the four components of the ATS. Out of the 50 nations, 28 are consultative parties and 22 are non consultative parties. Consultative status enables nations to take part in the decision making in the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM). The non consultative parties due to their accession to the treaty can attend the ATCMs but are not part of the decision making.

    The main essence of the proposal is to protect the area’s ecological structure, environment and promote research and other scientific activities amongst other reasons. This is apparently the main motive. As the proposal needs the approval of the consultative nations, any proposal that looks at any interest that does not contribute towards the ATS would in all probability be rejected.

    Rounak Singh Asked: Is Deep Sea Mining by China a reason for its assertiveness in South China Sea and Indian Ocean?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: China has been allotted contracts for exploration only in two areas by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for a period of 15 years, and therefore, it cannot form the basis of Chinese assertiveness:

    • In the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (Pacific Ocean) till May 21, 2016, for exploration for polymetallic nodules.
    • In the South West Indian Ocean Ridge till November 17, 2026, for exploration for polymetallic sulphides.

    The assertiveness shown by China in the South China Sea is due to its sovereignty claims on the islands of the Paracel and Spratly group. In the Indian Ocean, China could be viewed as expanding its maritime footprint and presence rather than being assertive.

    Vikramaditya’s Induction: High-point for the Indian Navy

    Vikramaditya’s commissioning has re-ignited an old debate on the relevance of aircraft carriers. Proponents argue that it must play a central role in ‘blue-water’ plans while opponents posit that the carrier’s vulnerability and inadequate logistical sustainability render it an obsolete asset.

    November 27, 2013

    India-Australia Maritime Cooperation: Raising the Pitch

    Both India and Australia are trying hard to shed their traditional reticence and engage in the maritime domain, with both sides agreeing to a drastic overhaul of the existing exchanges.

    October 14, 2013

    Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: A Changing Kaleidoscope

    The Indian Ocean Region (IOR), though considered an important maritime region, has not yet been accorded the due importance of a geo-strategic entity. One attributable reason is the ‘sandwiching’ of the IOR between two ‘hotspots’—the South China sea and the Persian Gulf that divert the attention of nations from this area. While there are commonalities like ‘Freedom of Navigation’, the divergences—caused by varying strategic interests even while addressing common security issues such as piracy—have resulted in a sectoral view of the maritime security paradigm in the IOR.

    October 2013

    India’s Maritime Diplomacy in Southeast Asia: An Assessment of the INS Sudarshini Expedition

    INS Sudarshini, India’s Sail Training Ship (STS), was sent on a commemorative expedition to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries for six months along the monsoon trade winds route to trace India’s civilisational and cultural affinities and rejuvenate trade and maritime linkages with its neighbours in the East. The voyage was part of the commemoration of the successful completion of two decades of India’s Look East Policy, 20 years of dialogue relations with ASEAN, and 10 years of India–ASEAN summit-level partnership.

    September 2013

    Indian Airpower Afloat

    The Indian navy has long aspired for a true blue water capability and the aircraft carrier project is a critical part of safeguarding India’s maritime interest that includes providing security along the sea lanes of communication.

    September 02, 2013

    Sailing through the Northern Sea Route: Opportunities and Challenges

    Because of global warming, the thinning ice in the Arctic is opening up the region for navigation for a few months in the summer season. The Arctic littoral countries (Canada, Norway, Denmark [Greenland], Russia and the United States), shipping companies and several other stakeholders (the EU and Asian countries such as China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea) are closely tracking shipping related developments in the Arctic and developing strategies to exploit the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

    July 2013

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