NEW DELHI : The Indian Navy has significantly enhanced its surveillance apparatus in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden by deploying frontline destroyers and frigates in view of recent incidents of attacks on merchant vessels. Liberian-flagged cargo vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India’s west coast on December 23, triggering security concerns as the incident came amid Iran-backed Houthi militants launching strikes on several commercial ships.
Another commercial crude oil tanker, MV Sai Baba, that was on the way to India came under a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea on the same day.
“The last few weeks have witnessed increased maritime security incidents on merchant vessels transiting through international shipping lanes in Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Central/ North Arabian Sea,” the Navy said.
It also referred to a recent piracy incident on merchant ship MV Ruen approximately 700 nautical miles from the Indian coast.
“The piracy incident on MV Ruen, approximately 700 nautical miles from the Indian coast, and recent drone attack on MV Chem Pluto, approximately 220 nautical miles South West of Porbandar, indicate a shift in maritime incidents closer to Indian EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone),” the Navy said in a statement.
“In response to these incidents, Indian Navy has substantially enhanced maritime surveillance efforts in Central/North Arabian Sea and augmented force levels,” it said.
“Task Groups comprising destroyers and frigates have been deployed to undertake maritime security operations and render assistance to merchant vessels in case of any incident,” the Navy said.
It said aerial surveillance by long-range maritime patrol aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft has been enhanced to have a complete maritime domain awareness.
Towards effective surveillance of EEZ, the Indian Navy is operating in close coordination with the Coast Guard, it said. “The overall situation is being closely monitored by Indian Navy in coordination with national maritime agencies. Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring safety of merchant shipping in the region,” it said.