Home Contact Us
Search :

Navy - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#1580, 13 December 2004
Project Seabird: An Example of India's Maritime Prowess
Vijay Sakhuja
Observer Research Foundation

After a delay of over a decade, Indian Navy's most ambitious infrastructure enterprise 'Project Seabird' is now a reality. On 14 November 2004, the first Indian naval ship entered the harbour, heralding the emergence of a new strategic naval base in the Arabian Sea. According to naval authorities, Indian naval ships will begin calling at the naval base from January 2005 and by the end of the year, a few ships will be based there. By then, it is hoped that enough naval support infrastructure for maintenance of ships and other associated shore support for naval personnel will be in place. Besides the naval ship repair yard, the base will have dry docks to accommodate vessels as large as aircraft carriers and a modern armament and missile depot. The base may also serve as the base for nuclear submarines that the Indian navy will acquire on lease from Russia and also those that it would build indigenously. The construction of the naval air station will commence in 2005 and it would be able to support most of the Indian naval air inventory.

In October 1986, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundation stone for the project but the venture took a back seat primarily due to limited financial resources. But over the years, a new realization among the ruling elite in New Delhi and a strong canvassing from the naval leadership about vulnerability of Mumbai to Pakistani naval and air attacks, the government understood the strategic importance of alternate bases. Besides, the rapid growth of the Indian Navy in the 1990s precluded any further delay. The base, though yet to be named, is scheduled for commissioning in May 2005. It is planned to host up to three-dozen warships including aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and submarines after the project achieves maturity towards the end of this decade.

According to Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson, former Chief of the Naval Staff, as also one of the early architects of Project Seabird, " Karwar's hilly terrain provides excellent camouflage to ground installations, and pens (enclosures) cut on the rock face can conceal submarines. The extent of the land available in and around Karwar will enable the Navy to disperse its forces, a crucial necessity in times of an attack."

While the Karwar base is an example of India's maritime technological prowess, it is important to locate the Project Seabird in the larger maritime strategic framework and examine the connect between maritime and naval actions to national and international issues. Alfred Thayer Mahan, through his most famous work, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783, is credited with laying out principles for the formulation of a naval strategy. According to Mahan, a country with a long coastline but no ports could never aspire to be a sea power. It would be at a great disadvantage because it would be unable to engage in sea borne trade, and have no shipping or navy of its own. Ports and harbours were therefore a source of strength and wealth, and would naturally facilitate and encourage both domestic and foreign trade. However, these could become a source of weakness if not properly defended. Mahan also argued that the character of the government and the accompanying institutions were an important factor in determining sea power of a state and can provide directions for growth of maritime enterprise to enhance sea power. Unlike Mahan, Sir Julian Stafford Corbett, an acclaimed British maritime strategist, and regarded as the deepest and most flexible thinker among either maritime or naval theorists, the objective of naval warfare is to control maritime communications, including commercial and economic aspects and naval action can influence the balance of wealth and power among nations. There is a common strand in the thinking of both Mahan and Corbett that maritime capability is the most critical component of national growth.

Over 97% percent of India's trade by volume and 75 percent by value is sea borne. Much of India's industrial and economic activity is located within 200 miles of its 7,500-Km long coast time, which is home to 186 ports both major and minor. India also lays claim to a 2.3 million square kilometers EEZ that is 66% of the landmass. It is a repository of great wealth in terms of oil and gas marine resources both living and non-living and are estimated to be worth Rs 150, 000 crores. India has set strategic targets to boost its naval power and substantial resources in terms of budgets are being augmented to develop Indian Navy's blue water capabilities and acquire power projection platform to safeguard India's maritime interest. To that extent, 'Project Seabird' is a welcome development.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage

Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness

IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Indian Ocean: Why India Seeks Demilitarisation

India and Maritime Security: Do More

Asia and the Seas: Looking Back to Look Forward

Indian Ocean and the IORA: Search and Rescue Operations

Pirates Prefer Energy Cargo

Maritime Terrorism: Karachi as a Staging Point

Xi Jinping and the Maritime Silk Road: The Indian Dilemma

Drug Smuggling across the Indian Ocean: Impact of Increasing Interceptions

Maritime Silk Road: Can India Leverage It?

Indian Ocean: Multilateralism Takes Root

BRICS: The Oceanic Connections

India-EU: Exploring Maritime Convergences

Rim of the Pacific Exercises (RIMPAC): Thaw in China-US Tensions?

Indian Ocean Navies: Lessons from the Pacific

The Oman Gas Pipeline: India’s Underwater Energy Supply Chain

Oman's Duqm Port and US Exit from Afghanistan

Search and Rescue at Sea: Challenges and Chinese Capabilities

Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks

The Maritime Silk Route and the Chinese Charm Offensive

China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays

Antarctica and the Ice breakers: What should India prepare for?

Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2015
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007
 2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999
 1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1900, Tel: 91-11-4100-1901, Tel/Fax: 91-11-4100-1902

© Copyright 2015, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com