Indian Navy responds to piracy in the Gulf of Aden

[Off Topic Post]

INS-Tabar

Image of the INS Tabar, which
sank a Somali Pirate ship (via Wikipedia )

Back in June, I wrote a post on how the Indian Navy was finally being recognized, both inside and outside India, as a needed force for stability on the dangerous trade routes that connect Asia to the rest of the world.  Recent joint exercises with regional powers, and the United States Navy, have reinforced the enforcement capabilities along the high seas of Southeast Asia.  Successful cooperation in this region is due to a growing alignment of regional powers, most of which share common economic interests.  The same cannot be said, however, for India’s western flank.  Patrolling the vast Arabian Sea is a challenge, as many of the bordering nations have conflicts, and others are marginal nation-states with limited (if any) ability to provide any sort of security.  As a result, pirates have become more brazen in their assaults on trade ships.  Earlier this week, for example, a Saudi flagged oil supertanker ship was overrun by Somali Pirates.  Also, there is a fundamental difference in the nature of piracy in the Arabian Sea, when compared to similar activity in SE Asia.  In SE Asia pirates act with little coordination, and for the most part, are not driven by an ideology.  In the Persian Gulf, this is not the case.  On the high waters of the Arabian Sea, pirates often are focused on securing high value cargo to finance insurgency operations in Africa and beyond.  As such, this has become a major source of funding for the global terror trade.

The only true blue water navies that operate in the region are that of the United States and India.  With the U.S. engaged in two wars, naval focus for the fifth fleet has not been on preventing piracy.  So, it was not a surprise to see that, overnight, the Indian Navy scored a victory against another band of Pirates:

The Associated Press: Indian navy sinks suspected pirate ‘mother ship’

“Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers,” said a statement from the Indian navy. Indian forces fired back, sparking fires and a series of onboard blasts — possibly due to exploding ammunition — and destroying the ship.

It is encouraging to see the Indian Navy take a more active role in the region.  As I commented in my previous post, since graduate school I’ve wondered why India’s blue water navy hadn’t received the attention that the Army and Air Force did.  With continued successes against transnational criminal organizations (TCO), one can only hope that the powers in Delhi continue to back the growth of the Navy.  I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see this type of skirmish in the Gulf.


Update:

Via the Sajaforum, Rediff has a slide show of the INS Tabar’s actions against the Somali Pirate ship.  The Tabar was replaced in the region by a Delhi class destroyer, the INS Mysore.

Somali pirate ship sinking

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Indian Naval expansion well underway

Sea Harrier landing on aircraft carrier INS Vi...

Image via Wikipedia

Slightly off topic for this blog, but the emergence of India’s Navy is beginning to be recognized outside of small circles.  Back in graduate school, I spent a great deal of time studying the military posture of India, and trying to understand why the naval forces had been largely neglected since the last Indo-Pakistan War.  Short of Rajiv Gandhi‘s use of naval power during the failed coup attempt in the Maldives, the Indian Navy has been the odd man out in Indian defense.  As Defense Tech writes, that is about to change dramatically.  A new generation of policy-makers, and military commanders, have begun to recognize the invaluable force projection capacity that a blue water navy adds.  Even American policy-makers have recognized the need for a friendly naval presence in the dangerous waters of the eastern Indian Ocean, particularly along the Straits of Malacca.  With two new aircraft carriers to come on line in the next decade, replacing the aging INS Viraat and the retired INS Vikrant, India’s force projection capabilities should become a balancing factor for the rising tide of Chinese maritime prowess.