Current Century is the ‘Century of the Seas’ Says Admiral Dhowan

February 11, 2015

New Delhi: Terming the current century as the ‘Century of the Seas’ Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral RK Dhowan, today said that the seas have gained new found importance ‘because of their linkages with the blue economy’. Admiral Dhowan was delivering the inaugural address at the 17 Asian Security Conference on ‘Asian Security: Comprehending the Indian Approach’ organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) from February 11-13, 2015.

“With the global and economic centre of gravity shifting to Asia, this may well be the century of Asia as well” added the Naval Chief, referring to the apparent resurgence in the whole of Asia in the last few decades. The region has evident maritime linkages and the interest of the Asian nations is linked to unhindered free flow of oil and trade to the region, he pointed out.

Consequently, the Asian nations have vast maritime interests and the responsibility of protecting these assets falls on the maritime agencies, as well as the Navies of the region, noted Admiral Dhowan. The region’s Navies ensure that the maritime interests of the Asian nations, vitally linked to the region’s economic growth, are allowed to develop unhindered both in peace and war.

Accordingly, a security umbrella by the regional Navies and Maritime Agencies is required to ensure smooth global commerce through sea, said the Naval Chief. An Asian and Global Maritime Cooperation and Networking of Navies is thus emerging as the new order of the 21st century.

Terming the seas around the Asian region as the ‘energy heartland’ of the world, the Naval Chief insisted that the security and stability of the seas around Asia is the key to peace and prosperity of all nations in the region.

Highlighting the importance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in the blue economy, Admiral Dhowan said that as the third largest water body in the world, the IOR has emerged as the ‘global economic highway’ with 66 per cent of the world’s oil, 50 per cent of the world’s container traffic and 33 per cent of the world’s cargo traffic passing through its waters every year. And these figures are likely to grow in the coming years.

The IOR is unique as it is virtually landlocked from three sides and 80 per cent of oil and trade which emanates in the region is extra regional, implying that any obstruction in this movement will not only hamper the Asian economy, but will also be detrimental to global economy, warned the Naval Chief.

Terming piracy, asymmetric warfare and maritime terrorism as major maritime threats, Admiral Dhowan lauded the active role played by the Indian Navy in anti-piracy operations of the region since 2008. He said that the Navy has safety escorted nearly 3000 ships over the years and has successfully brought down the incidents of piracy, in cooperation with the Navies of other countries.

Admiral Dhowan identified drugs, arms and human trafficking and natural disasters as other security threats to the seas of the region. Inter-regional and intra-regional tensions also have the potential to spill into the maritime domain, affecting the oil flow and trade and eventually the regional economy, the Naval Chief said.

Admiral Dhowan earlier congratulated IDSA on its golden Jubilee and said that the institute has for the last 50 years shaped and articulated the strategic perspective and has played a pioneering role in strategic thinking, inculcating a strategic culture in the country. The Naval Chief also released IDSA publications, ‘The Asian Strategic Review: India as a Security Provider’ and ‘Emerging Strategic Trends in Asia’.