In response to escalating threats of pirate attacks in the Arabian Sea, India is set to significantly bolster its anti-piracy operations. Senior Indian officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, revealed plans to increase the number of warships dedicated to this mission by five times compared to the previous year.
The decision comes in the wake of heightened concerns over the security of the vast maritime waters. Following a recent incident involving a chemical tanker being targeted by an unknown assailant near Indian waters, India initially escalated its deployment from two to five warships in December. Notably, on a recent Friday, India's marine commandos successfully executed a daring operation to rescue a hijacked cargo carrier and its crew.
Each of the deployed warships will carry a detachment of marine commandos and feature on-board helicopters. To further enhance surveillance capabilities, the fleet will be supported by US-made MQ9 drones and long-range surveillance aircraft.
While India's navy spokesperson, Vivek Madhwal, declined to comment, sources suggest that this move aligns with India's broader strategy of positioning itself as the primary security partner for nations in the region. This region, through which approximately 40% of the world's oil is transported, underscores the strategic importance of India's maritime security efforts.
India has strategically positioned warships at five crucial choke points in the Indian Ocean, extending from the Gulf of Aden in the west to the Malacca Strait in the east. This heightened naval presence is in response to growing concerns about China's expanding naval influence in the Indian Ocean.
Despite the escalating piracy threats, New Delhi remains hesitant to formally join the US-led multinational naval coalition, consisting of 20 nations operating in the Red Sea against Yemeni Houthi militants. The reluctance stems from historical ties with Iran, as the US alleges Iranian backing for the rebels. Moreover, India traditionally refrains from participating in coalitions unless sanctioned by the United Nations.
New Delhi argues that by reinforcing anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea, it contributes significantly to the broader international efforts aimed at securing commerce in the region. This measured approach reflects India's commitment to regional stability and maritime security while navigating the complex geopolitical dynamics in the area. As the Indian Navy takes proactive steps to combat piracy, the world watches to see how this strategic move will impact the evolving security landscape in the Arabian Sea.