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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

Repelled Chinese vessel in Sept, says Navy chief

According to marinetraffic.com, a ship tracking and maritime intelligence website, the Shi Yan 1 is 60 metres long, 26 metres wide and has a gross weight of 3,071 tonnes. The website tracked the Chinese-flagged vessel’s current position to the South China Sea.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2019 06:03 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, with Navy spokesperson, Commander Vivek Madhwal, in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, with Navy spokesperson, Commander Vivek Madhwal, in New Delhi on Tuesday.(PTI)
         

Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Tuesday said that a Chinese vessel that had intruded into Indian waters near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where it was supposed to not be, in September, was repelled.

The Chinese research vessel, Shi Yan 1, was spotted near Port Blair and was suspected to be carrying out an ocean survey in India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Every coastal country’s EEZ extends to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores and the country in question has exclusive rights to all resources in the water, including oil, natural gas and fish.

“Our stand is that if you have to do anything in our EEZ, you have to notify us and take permission,” the navy chief said during his customary press conference ahead of Navy Day on December 4.

According to marinetraffic.com, a ship tracking and maritime intelligence website, the Shi Yan 1 is 60 metres long, 26 metres wide and has a gross weight of 3,071 tonnes. The website tracked the Chinese-flagged vessel’s current position to the South China Sea.

Singh said the navy was closely monitoring China’s growing footprint in the Indian Ocean region, attributing it to the neighbour’s economy and aspirations. Anti-piracy patrols and freedom of navigation are the chief reasons cited by China for its rising presence in the region.

Amid growing sightings of Chinese naval assets in the Indian Ocean region, the navy in 2017 recalibrated its deployment to position mission-ready warships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications and choke points.

India will host the next edition of the multination naval drills, called Milan, off the Vizag coast in March 2020. India’s biggest maritime exercise is likely to involve 41 countries but the Chinese navy has not been invited.

Admiral Singh said India had invited only “like-minded” countries to take part in the naval drills. “We haven’t even done a passage exercise with the Chinese navy. With the other countries, we have better interoperability,” the navy chief explained. The exercise was traditionally staged off Port Blair but has been moved to the eastern seaboard as “it offers better bandwidth,” for bigger drills, he said.

Singh flagged concerns about a steady decline in the navy’s share of the defence budget over the last eight years and how it could hit the service’s plans to deploy a fleet of 200 warships by 2027. The navy may reach a figure of 175 warships over the next seven years, navy vice chief Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar said.

The navy’s share of the budget has slipped from 18% in 2012-13 to 13.66% in 2019-20. Singh said the navy had projected the requirement of additional money to the government.

Hindustan Times reported on September 18 that the capital expenditure of Rs 23,156 crore earmarked for the navy in the defence budget for 2019-20 is not sufficient to meet its requirements and the service plans to demand at least Rs 20,000 crore more to support its modernisation efforts.

“We hope we can get some money… we are prioritising our requirements so that India’s maritime interests are not compromised,” Singh said. He said instead of sheer numbers, the navy was working on making its platforms more lethal and increasing their capabilities for maximum effect.

Responding to a question on the fund crunch the navy is facing and the swift modernisation of the Chinese navy, the navy chief said, “China is moving at a pace it is capable of and we are moving at a pace we are capable of…Our aim is to get maximum bang for the buck.”

He said the Indian Navy needed to have a fleet of three aircraft carriers to secure the country’s maritime interests. “As the navy chief, I am convinced that we need three carriers so that two are operational at all times.” He said the navy would induct its first indigenous aircraft carrier by 2022 and the broad contours for developing the second indigenous carrier had been finalised.

As the government prepares to appoint a chief of defence staff (CDS), Singh said the CDS should be “suitably empowered” to take decisions and carry out the responsibilities assigned to him. On August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the creation of a CDS for more effective coordination between the three services.

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