Navy adding capability to reinforce India as superpower in Indo-Pacific: Rajnath | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Navy adding capability to reinforce India as superpower in Indo-Pacific: Rajnath

ByRahul Singh
Feb 03, 2024 05:11 PM IST

The navy has thwarted five piracy attempts in and around the Arabian Sea in the last few days and responded to distress calls made by merchant ships hit by missiles and drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels

New Delhi: The Indian Navy on Saturday commissioned survey vessel INS Sandhayak into service at the Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam in the presence of defence minister Rajnath Singh, who said that the new ship would help further strengthen India’s role as a superpower in the Indo-Pacific region and highlighted the navy’s role in strengthening maritime security in the distant seas that face a raft of challenges.

Union defence minister Rajnath Singh (HT Photo/Sourced)
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh (HT Photo/Sourced)

“Many choke points like the Gulf of Aden are there in the Indian Ocean through which a large amount of international trade takes place. Many threats remain at these choke points, the biggest being from pirates,” Singh said, referring to the recent jump in hijacking attempts in the region and the role played by the navy in rescuing several ships and their crews from Somali pirates.

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The navy has thwarted five piracy attempts in and around the Arabian Sea in the last few days and responded to distress calls made by merchant ships hit by missiles and drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It foiled a piracy attempt off the Somali coast on Friday and rescued the Iranian-flagged fishing vessel Omari and its crew of 11 Iranians and eight Pakistanis.

“The Indian Navy is facilitating safe trade in the Indian Ocean region while ensuring peace and prosperity. Many defence experts are calling this the rise of a superpower. This is our culture, to protect everyone,” the defence minister said.

INS Sandhayak, the navy’s first SVL (survey vessel large) class of ships, will carry out hydrographic surveys of ports, harbours, navigational channels, coastal areas and the deep seas to enable safe navigation, the defence ministry said in a statement, adding the ship is also capable of a range of naval operations.

The vessel is the first of the four ships being constructed in the country under the SVL project. It has a displacement of 3,400 tonnes, a length of 110 metres and a width of 16 metres.

“The ocean is vast. The more we explore its elements, the more our knowledge will expand, and we will become stronger...The more we know about the ocean, the more meaningfully we will be able to fulfil our strategic interests,” Singh said.

He said India, with its growing might, was determined to eradicate anarchy not only from the region but from the entire world. “The purpose of our growing power is to ensure a rules-based world order. Our aim is to stop illegal and unregulated fishing in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific region. The navy is stopping narcotics and human trafficking in this region. It is committed not only to stopping piracy but also making this entire region peaceful and prosperous.”

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Strengthening the navy will help India become a promoter of world peace, he added.

Singh said a country, in the initial stage of its development, depends on other countries for security, before it starts developing the capability to protect itself, and then comes the next stage when it becomes so powerful that it not only safeguards its own interests but also protects friendly nations.

The challenges in the distant seas include China’s carefully calculated power play for influence, defending the rules-based international order, and the Arabian Sea emerging as a new front with Red Sea tensions escalating and the resurgence of piracy. The navy has stepped up surveillance in and around the Arabian Sea substantially and deployed task groups consisting of around 10 warships in the face of rising threats.

Those involved in maritime piracy and smuggling will not be spared, Singh said.

Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said the SVL project highlighted the importance attached by the government and the navy to “the quintessential prerequisite to operating at sea — the survey of the unfathomable depths of the oceans.”

“Be it the mighty aircraft carrier Vikrant, the deadly destroyers of Visakhapatnam class, the versatile Nilgiri class frigates, the stealthy Kalvari class submarines...we are carefully crafting a balanced ‘Aatmanirbhar’ force in service of an ascendant Bharat,” Kumar said.

Sandhayak, which means the one who carries out a special search, has an indigenous content of more than 80% by cost, the statement added.

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