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Navy Chief Hari Kumar said the situation in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as ‘fragile’

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GOA : Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar Sunday said the situation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden region remains “fragile”, a day after Iran attacked Israel leading to escalation of hostilities between the two countries.

Speaking at the Naval Investiture Ceremony at the INS Hansa base in Goa, he said, “If you ask about the situation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden…it is fragile. We saw the drone attacks on merchant ships and now piracy has resurfaced. The lesson to be learnt here is that whenever some disorder happens in one part, people are waiting to create more disturbance and benefit from it.”

He said more than 90 attacks have occurred in the region between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in the recent months.

We are aware of the operations that are ongoing in the Western Indian Ocean. We have 10 ships deployed for the last 120 days…[we have] surveillance aircrafts and drones. We are monitoring the situation there. We are engaged in ensuring safe transit of our merchant vessels.

On the possibility of conflict between Israel and Iran spiralling into the regions where the Indian Navy maintains its presence, the Navy Chief said, “We are already operating between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. That is a choke point. The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait – all the ships have to pass through that and it is a narrow strip of water body… where a large number of attacks have happened. We have been trying to help out all the mariners in distress, irrespective of whether they are Indians or foreigners.”

More than 15 lakh tonnes of cargo has been escorted safely through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” he said.

He said that the Navy is engaged in four specific operations to keep the Indian Ocean Region safe, which include anti-piracy, anti-hijacking, anti-missile and anti-drone operations.

Referring to a recent operation in which the Navy rescued a merchant vessel [MV Ruen], around 2,600 km from the Indian coast, and rescued 17 crew members and captured 35 pirates, he said, “This mission has further cemented our stature as the ‘first responder’ and a ‘preferred security partner’. While many countries have deployed their surface and aerial units in the area, it was finally the Bhartiya Nausena which took this decisive action. This is the ‘new’ and ‘confident’ Bharatiya Nausena that is not shy to wear its identity of Bharat.”

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