Home Contact Us  
   

Peace & Conflict Database - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4485, 2 June 2014
 

Maritime Matters

Indian Ocean Navies: Lessons from the Pacific
Vijay Sakhuja
Director (Research), Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), New Delhi
 

The Chinese naval base at Qingdao in Shandong Province was buzzing with naval activity a few weeks ago. Two significant events – International Fleet Review (IFR) to celebrate the 65th anniversary of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the 14th Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), a multilateral forum of western Pacific navies – had been planned. The former was cancelled due to PLAN’s engagement in southern Indian Ocean for search and rescue operations of the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370, and the latter brought together naval delegates from twenty member-countries and three observers: Bangladesh, India and Mexico.

An important issue for discussion at the 14th WPNS was the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), which seeks  an agreement on procedures for ‘conduct at sea’ during un-alerted meetings/sightings between warships of member countries. The usefulness of the CUES was overwhelming, and was endorsed by the member navies, including China.

This development offers an opportunity for the navies in the Indian Ocean to explore a similar agreement.  Before attempting that, it is important to raise at least two important questions: are there many flashpoints in the Indian Ocean? Do the navies in the Indian Ocean meet frequently at sea and require CUES? As regards the first question, it is fair to say that there are a few ‘hot spots’ in the Indian Ocean but these are limited to areas such as the Persian Gulf and the northern Arabian Sea.  

As far as the second question is concerned, a number of regional and extra-regional powers have forward-deployed their navies in the Indian Ocean. These operate either independently (such as those of China, India, Iran, and Russia) or as part of various task forces such as the TF 150, TF 151, EUNAVFOR and the NATO in support of counter piracy operations, ‘war on terror’, treaty agreements, and other national strategic agendas.

In the past, there have been a number of military/naval accidents involving warships, submarines and even air crashes in the Persian Gulf and the northern Arabian Sea between the regional and extra-regional navies. Some of these have escalated into saber-rattling and politico-diplomatic stand-offs.

In the Persian Gulf, regional countries have not established the Incidents at Sea Agreement (INCSEA) and there have been instances when the powerful Iranian Navy has challenged its smaller neighbours. As far as extra-regional navies are concerned, the Iranian Navy has confronted the US Navy by conducting high speed naval maneuvers and missile firings, and has used drones to shadow US naval assets. In 2013, the Iranian Air Force shadowed a U.S. Predator drone over the Gulf of Oman but no shots were fired. However, in 2012, Iran fired at the U.S. Predator drone flying close to Iranian coast but without damage to the platform. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy has been quite active and in 2004 and 2007, it captured British Royal Navy sailors and marines in the disputed waters off the coast between Iraq and Iran.

Unlike the Persian Gulf, India and Pakistan have signed the INCSEA; and yet there have been several instances of buzzing and formatting by naval aircraft, shadowing and near-collision between the warships of the two navies. In one instance, there was a fatal incident involving the Pakistan Navy’s Atlantique aircraft which was shot down by the Indian Air Force.

The Indian Ocean countries have established the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) which draws liberally from the WPNS. In fact it is a mirror image of its counterpart in the western Pacific Ocean.  The IONS was started in 2008 at India’s initiative and the chairmanship is rotated between four generic ‘sub-regions’ i.e. UAE (2010), South Africa (2012), Australia (2014), and the next Chair would be a South Asian country.

In their deliberations and discussions, the IONS member-navies have attempted to address common non-traditional maritime security threats and challenges such as piracy, terrorism, drug smuggling and gun-running, but have shied away from discussing hard security issues such as competitive naval modernisation, clandestine operations by underwater platforms, snooping and buzzing by aircraft etc. A discussion on measures to mitigate risks due to close encounters at sea between maritime forces has not been on the agenda.  Furthermore, there is no dialogue between the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the IONS; and the two institutions appear to be working in silos.

The Indian Ocean is buzzing with naval activity and the CUES can be a potential issue of interest among the Indian Ocean navies. The key objective of the CUES in the Indian Ocean would also need to involve extra-regional powers who should be willing to adopt regional guidelines to prevent incidents at sea, including unwarranted escalation and sabre-rattling. This would add to stability in the Indian Ocean and can be an agenda for confidence building measures among the Indian Ocean and the non-Indian Ocean naval powers.

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?

Indo-Pacific
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?
Indus-tan
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


 
Related Articles
Vijay Sakhuja,
"Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks," 3 March 2014

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
Dhow Trade in the North Arabian Sea

Maritime Issues: Proactive Initiatives

Towards a North Arabian Maritime Partnership

Forecast 2016: Indian Ocean Politics and Security

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?

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

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August
 2016  2015  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
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.