Maritime Security

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  • Trespassers will be Prosecuted: China’s latest Billboard in the South China Sea

    The issuance of these ordinances will not only add to the growing tensions in the disputed areas, specifically the South China Sea, but also add to the growing suspicions about Chinese intent.

    December 08, 2012

    Towards an Asia-Pacific Alliance

    Coincidentally or not, China’s maritime disputes with its neighbours in the littoral have been gaining global attention ever since Obama’s announcement in January 2012 of his country’s “pivot” strategy in the Asia-Pacific.

    November 26, 2012

    INS Sudarshini’s Mission of Peace and Goodwill

    INS Sudarshini is undertaking the goodwill mission to commemorate 20 years of friendship between India and the Association of South East Asian Nations which falls in December 2012.

    October 10, 2012

    D. Aravind asked: How safe is the Indian coastline? What steps has the Government taken recently to improve the security of our coastlines?

    Pushpita Das replies: India’s coastline continues to remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks as well as to smuggling of drugs, arms and explosives. However, the situation is not so bleak. Thanks to the various measures undertaken by the government, the country’s coastal security situation is fast improving. Some of the measures initiated by the central government are:

    • The Indian Navy has been entrusted with the overall responsibility of coastal and maritime security; the Coast Guard given the additional responsibility of patrolling the territorial waters
    • The Navy and Coast Guard are being provided with additional manpower as well as suitable assets for coastal security
    • 73 Coastal Police Stations have been established under Coastal Security Scheme Phase I; additional 131 Coastal Police Stations will be set up under Phase II
    • Coastal Police Stations have being provided with trained manpower and interceptor boats to patrol the coastal waters
    • Four Joint Operation Centers (JOCs) have been set up for coordination and intelligence sharing among various agencies involved in coastal security
    • 46 static radars are in the process of being installed to provide complete coverage of the entire coast off the mainland and island territories,
    • All vessels (merchant ships and fishing boats) above 20 meters are required to install Automatic Identification System (AIS) devices, and to track and monitor these vessels 84 AIS Stations are being set up along the coastline.
    • All fishing boats are being registered under a uniform registration system
    • All the coastal villagers are being provided with identity cards.

    It is important to emphasise that given the nature of the problem, India’s coastline cannot be made foolproof; it can at best be managed efficiently so that the consequences of any untoward incident are minimised to the extent possible.

    International Order at Sea: Anti-Piracy and Humanitarian Operations

    International Order at Sea: Anti-Piracy and Humanitarian Operations
    • Publisher: Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies

    International Order at Sea is a workshop series chaired by the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS) in partnership with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi; China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies (CFISS) and China Institute for Marine Affairs (CIMA), Beijing; and the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), Alexandria, VA.

    The workshop series examines seapower and the future of the global commons. It explores how international order at sea is established, maintained, changed and challenged, and it focuses on the interaction and cooperation among leading, emerging and smaller naval powers to maintain order at sea

    • ISBN 978-82-91571-15-7,
    • E-copy available

    Min Goo Lee asked: Is China a threat to the Indian Navy or does India has the advantage by being able to control China's sea lines of communication?

    S.S. Parmar replies: Threat perceptions are normally based on capabilities and perceived intentions in an area of common interest. The same would apply in the case of China in the Indian Ocean, which apparently appears to be the theme of the question. China’s entry into the Indian Ocean is presently based on economic engagements and ensuring safety of their maritime trade, especially oil, that traverses the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs). In order to ensure security of these interests, the presence of the PLAN is normative.

    To be perceived as a threat, a Navy must have the ability of firstly presence in adequate numbers and secondly sustained supportable operations. The first aspect requires a good mix of combat ability in all three dimensions – air, surface and sub surface. The Chinese Navy has a big disadvantage in the air dimension, primarily the lack of ship based air cover, and the land based maritime reconnaissance capability due to the distance involved. An aircraft carrier could provide this air cover but it would be restricted in time and space. The second aspect of sustenance of operations would be driven by the number of bases available for resupply and maintenance. Air operations and support from friendly foreign bases is a possibility but nations permitting this type of support would weigh the pros and cons in terms of international pressure, and the aspect of neutrality in the event of a conflict.

    India on the other hand has the advantage over China in the Indian Ocean as the proximity of bases and operations over distances in the region are part of its normal operating philosophy, thereby permitting it to be present in adequate numbers. Therefore, presently, the Chinese Navy is not considered a cogent threat.

    The aspects covered above permits India to monitor the SLOCs in the Indian Ocean so as to ensure a secure maritime environment. As India believes in and supports the aspect of freedom of navigation in the seas, it would under normal circumstances not like to be viewed as an impediment in another nation’s maritime trade. However, in the event of a conflict, it would have the advantage of monitoring and interdicting Chinese trade traversing the SLOCs in the Indian Ocean.

    Sambit Patra asked: Is the lease of the Russian Nerpa class submarine, with its non-combat clause, justified? Should India have gone for either a Borie or Typhoon class?

    S.S. Parmar replies: To understand the rationale behind the leasing of the Russian Nerpa class submarine (renamed INS Chakra), a look at the time line of India’s nuclear submarine programme and some treaties like Non Proliferation and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is essential.

    India had earlier leased and operated a Charlie class Russian nuclear submarine from 1988 to 1992 for training its personnel on nuclear powered submarines. This submarine was also called INS Chakra. Construction of the Nerpa class submarine commenced in 1993 and it was scheduled for delivery in 2007 on lease to India. However, various reports indicate that issues related to equipment and an accident at sea resulted in the delay. The Typhoon class submarines have been in service since 1981 and are due to be decommissioned (removed from service) reportedly due to restrictions imposed on Russia by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. However, as per reports, no such decision to remove from service has been made and the submarines would remain with the Russian Navy. Given this situation, taking the Typhoon class on lease would not have been beneficial to India. The Typhoon class is scheduled to be replaced by the Borei class. Construction of the Borei class began in 1996. By that time, in all probability, the deal between India and Russia for the Nerpa would have been concluded.

    It is surmised that no matter which submarine India would have taken on lease, the non combat clause would have been applied. As per reports, the Russian submarine (Nerpa) can carry strategic weapons but they are not being transferred to India because of the MTCR. Out of the 10 tubes, four are blank, while six are open. The MTCR prevents the transfer of missiles above the range of 50 nautical miles, and Russia has never flouted the MTCR. The four blanked-out tubes are for bigger weapons with a wider diameter.

    Apart from the international treaties the cost factor of acquiring, maintaining and operating a nuclear powered submarine is also a consideration. Admiral Arun Prakash, India’ former Chief of Naval Staff, had remarked, “The problems with acquiring a foreign nuclear submarine on lease are obvious: the current sources are limited (until the Nuclear Suppliers Group looks more benignly at us), it will carry a conventional weapon load, and it will come at a huge cost.”

    Therefore, the taking on lease of the Nerpa class submarine by India is mainly to gain expertise and experience before India develops its indigenous nuclear powered submarines. In this respect, the deal for the Nerpa, given the circumstances and time line mentioned above, could be considered optimal.

    Making the Law of the Sea – A Study in the Development of International Law by James Harrison

    The cornerstone of international law is ‘applicability of law based on consent’. Being bereft of any legislative machinery to legislate international law in the international sphere, the statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) adumbrates ‘treaty, customary international law and general principles of law, etc.’, as the sources of international law. Treaties (both bilateral and multilateral) formulation, however, is one such mechanism of codification of international law in which consent is given explicitly to a rule of international law.

    May 2012

    Asian Maritime Power in the 21st Century: Strategic Transactions, China, India and Southeast Asia by Vijay Sakhuja

    The rise of Asian maritime power is a sequel to Rising Powers in Asia. Maritime power in the age of globalisation has been a critical instrument for the emergence of the latent powers and capabilities of the once pre-eminent ‘civilisational states’ in the contemporary international order. It is important to note here that the rise and fall of maritime power determined the rise and fall of ancient civilisations.

    May 2012

    The Chinese Navy, Its Regional Power and Global Reach

    The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s recent accomplishments are impressive but have not gone beyond ‘pocket excellence’, as its overall structure and equipment are still out of date. However, the PLAN now has ships and powerful weapons that enable it to extend its combat range and engage its foes in a relatively large-scale maritime campaign beyond the Yellow Sea—its traditional battlefield. Depending on the nature of operations, it may already be able to carry out blue water missions around the first island chain in the West Pacific.

    May 2012