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
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use
 

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

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
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

India, Sri Lanka & Maldives: A Maritime Troika Leads the Way

China and Russia: The Joint Sea 2013 Exercise

India and China in the Arctic: Breaching the Monopoly

P-3C vs. P-8I: India, Pakistan and the Naval Balance

Myanmar: Expanding Naval Ties with India

Gwadar: Can India Checkmate China?

India and the Melting Arctic

Iran Stirs India-US Waters

Strategic Shift In Chinese Naval Strategy In Indian Ocean

INDRA 2005: From Sea to the Desert

Peace Mission 2005: Reverberations in India

Coercive Maritime Diplomacy

Maritime Legal Conundrum

Container Security Initiative: Is India Serious About Its Maritime Trade?

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July
 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, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
Email:
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com