The seas around us are highways of trade and energy supplies and need to be safeguarded at all times to sustain the country’s economic progress. The Indian Navy is playing a stellar role in keeping these highways around us secure.
INS Virat, the mighty aircraft carrier
The Navy has also responded in a prompt and professional manner to the challenges brought up by the prevailing global security environment. The roles and responsibilities of the Navy are only going to become even more important to the nation’s security and well-being, as the complex geo-strategic landscape of the 21st century unfolds.
Every year, my dear friends, 4th December is celebrated as the Navy Day to commemorate the Indian Navy’s gallant action on 4th December, 1971 during the Indo-Pak War. To mark this occasion, various activities are organized by the Andaman & Nicobar Command in the first week of December every year. The President of India, the Defence Minister and Chief of Naval Staff sent messages on this occasion.
This year too as a part of Navy Week celebrations, various activities were organized to increase awareness about the Indian Navy among the civilian population, as I have been writing about, every year. There have been quite a few landmark accomplishments by our Navy during this year.
In a bid to deal befittingly with the complexities of the task of the Navy of ensuring maritime security at sea, along the coast and ashore, a Joint Operation Centre (Coastal Defence) has been set up at the Headquarters, Andaman & Nicobar Command in Port Blair, which is manned round-the-clock and has been operational since 19th April, 2010.
FDN – 1, Indian Navy’s 1st Floating Dock at Port Blair
The JOC (CD) is under the charge of the Commander-in-Chief, Andaman & Nicobar Command who is also designated as the Commander-in-Chief (Coastal Defence). The JOC (CD) is working to a drawn up detailed plan for enhancing coastal security around the islands.
The Command is involved in an ongoing awareness program for local fishermen to train them to become additional ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ at sea. The resultant Fishermen Watch Group has already begun yielding positive results. Regular coastal security exercises are being executed once every six months involving all maritime stakeholders of the region – the Marine Police, the Port Management Board, Customs, Forests, Fisheries to name a few.
The coastal defence initiatives by the Command have received an overwhelming response from the local administration, security agencies as well as the masses. The Fisheries Department has made it mandatory to for local fishermen to carry valid identity cards and e-registration of boats and biometrics of personnel is also underway. This has lent added relevance to the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations carried out by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.
A communication issued to the media and general public during the Navy Week also enlightens that plans are well underway to establish surveillance sensors along the coastline in order to bring maximum areas under the electronic eye. A database of coastal features is also being compiled at the JOC (CD) which will then be reference with the Global Information System (GIS) for creating a potent decision support tool for planning multi-agency coordinated responses during a crisis.
In addition, the Indian Navy is continuing its regular Coordinated Patrols with friendly littorals like Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, which are invaluable learning tools for interoperability during crises/emergencies.
Another offshoot of the government directives on the Coastal Security – the Saagar Prahari Bal – is also being positioned at Port Blair in a phased manner. This cadre comprises trained manpower from the Indian Navy to provide sea-front protection of important installations (VAs and VPs) as well as to escort naval vessels in and out of harbour.
The Indian Navy has played a crucial role in maintaining peace and stability - both at the national and international levels. Despite various conventional and unconventional challenges, the officers and sailors have maintained peace, stability and prosperity on the seas around us. However, our Navy must adopt new technologies and operational practices to retain the cutting edge among the leading maritime forces of the world.
Eventually, it does sound reassuring to hear the perceptive Admiral Nirmal Verma, the Chief of Naval Staff say, “The Indian Navy today operates in an exceedingly changed strategic context. An uncertain and unpredictable security environment, as also natural calamities of increasing frequency magnifies the complexity of meeting the challenges at hand.”
The majestically brawny new aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya
He further says with notable poise, “With anticipated force accretions and inductions of newer and better hardware, the Navy’s blue and water capabilities continue to be the bedrock of our Navy’s operational, organizational and technological effectiveness. They not only make us proud of a glorious wake, but also hold the promise of a bright and vibrant future.”
Images courtesy: http://indiannavy.nic.in