In a proactive move to secure vital sea routes and protect merchant shipping from potential missile attacks by Iranian proxies in the Middle East, the Indian Navy has deployed a formidable fleet of five frontline guided missile destroyers.
This independent initiative operates alongside a logistics tanker, the Boeing P-8I anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and the long-endurance Sea Guardian drone.
The strategic deployment spans from Bab el-Mandeb to the Indian coast, covering critical areas in the Arabian Sea.
As per reports by Hindustan Times, the naval assets deployed include INS Kolkata, positioned at the mouth of the Red Sea; INS Kochi, located south of Yemen's Socotra Island; INS Mormugao in the west Arabian Sea; INS Chennai in the central Arabian Sea; and INS Visakhapatnam, patrolling the north Arabian Sea.
This robust naval presence follows an alarming incident where the Iranian loitering ammunition Shahed 136 struck the chemical tanker MV Chem Pluto, 210 nautical miles off Dwarka in Gujarat.
Responding swiftly, INS Visakhapatnam was dispatched to patrol the north Arabian Sea.
A key element of this maritime strategy involves the deployment of civilian tanker MV Swarnamala, a 25,000-ton oil tanker, providing fuel to the destroyers.
While the primary objective is to prevent black shipping, piracy, and missile attacks on commercial shipping by Iranian proxies, the Boeing P-8I aircraft and the Sea Guardian drone conduct continuous surveillance in the Arabian Sea and up to the Gulf of Aden.
This surveillance aims to identify suspicious ships and dhows, commonly used by groups such as the Shia Houthis in Yemen, Shia Kaitab Hezbollah in Iraq, and Tehran, in targeting commercial shipping.
Iranian proxies, particularly the Houthis, have been actively targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea in response to Israel's operations against the Sunni Hamas terrorist group in Gaza.
Simultaneously, the Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah group has initiated confrontations with Israel on its northern border.
While the US-led coalition focuses on deterring Iranian proxies in the Red Sea, the Indian Navy's efforts concentrate on securing the Arabian Sea, a critical junction for trillion-dollar worth of merchant and oil trade at risk from Iranian militia.
Complementing the naval efforts, the Indian Coast Guard is also actively patrolling the Exclusive Economic Zone on the western coast.
Utilising offshore patrol vessels and Dornier surveillance aircraft, they aim to ensure the security of the Indian coastline and the Arabian Sea against any suspicious activities.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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