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CNS on a farewell visit

Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar bids farewell at the Southern Naval Command, leaves behind a formidable Navy in the making

April 12, 2024 By Manish Kumar Jha Photo(s): By PIB, X / indiannavy, X / SpokespersonMoD, SP Guide Pubns
Admiral R. Hari Kumar on farewell visit to Southern Naval Command

The hi-calibre response and resolute actions shown by the Indian Navy in maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and off the East Coast of Somalia are reverberating throughout the world. These are no mean feat, with such impeccable efficiency far across the sea, points out a senior naval commander of the US Navy.

How has the Indian Navy been marching towards a formidable force with indigenous capabilities is also a much-accepted fact even among the services. The number of operations against Houthis and other non-state actors in the Red Sea led the Indian Navy to dominate the security role in one of the world's critical waterways.

The Indian Navy's ongoing operations and capability plan, despite challenges, have garnered praise from senior naval commanders of the US Navy

While Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff, was on a farewell visit to Southern Naval Command (SNC), Kochi, he certainly took pride in the ongoing operations and Navy's capability plan on course—not that it is without great deal of challenges.

During the visit, CNS interacted with the officers and sailors of SNC on the 'Connect with CNS' forum at Sagarika Auditorium, Naval Base, Kochi. The interaction was attended by personnel of SNC units. He acknowledged their role as a formidable workforce supporting the Indian Navy's usual high tempo of operations. Admiral Kumar addressed the various contemporary issues of operations, training, human resource development, digitisation, and other transformation initiatives. However, the concerns raised were addressed which is all about stretching naval forces to the endless world of vast operational areas and filling gaps.

Navy's resolve in the international crisis

The staggering efforts of the Indian Navy are on the global stage. The way, the Indian Navy has conducted some of the dangerous missions recently put in the open sea is commended by several navies of the world.

More so, such professional conducts are also results of a massive number of naval exercises which the Indian Navy conducts and participates in, involving large-force manoeuvres, advanced air defence operations, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface operations.

Indian Navy's dominance in maritime security operations, particularly against non-state actors in the Red Sea, highlights its formidable force with indigenous capabilities

As the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict played out in the maritime domain, the Indian Navy responded through its highly calibrated security operations since December 2023.

The Navy undertook proactive actions during the hijacking of Malta-flagged Bulk Carrier MV Ruen on December 14, 2023. Important to note that Indian naval vessels intercepted Ruen some 1,400 nautical miles from India's coast while also being assisted by the Indian Air Force by dropping rubberised combat boats during the operation.

Anti-Piracy Operations against Pirate Ship MV Ruen by Indian Navy

In fact, the Indian Navy completed 100 days of ongoing maritime security operations under the aegis of 'Op Sankalp' in March. During the entire course of high-temp actions, the Indian Navy has responded to 18 incidents and has played a dominant role as the 'First Responder' and 'Preferred Security Partner' in the IOR. The Navy's successful operation and actions against the hijacking of MV Ruen have been widely highlighted by key international maritime players and watchdogs worldwide. International Maritime Organization's (IMO) secretary-general Arsenio Dominguez lauded the Indian Navy on its rescue operation of Ruen.

Admiral R. Hari Kumar's strategic vision has led the Navy to order 68 warships and vessels valued at approximately ₹2 lakh crore, enhancing India's maritime strategy and security

During the last 100 days, the highly coordinated missions including the naval warships, aircraft, and special forces of the Indian Navy--Marine Commando Force, also called MARCOS have demonstrated its preparedness and capabilities to 'secure the seas' as the first responder in the region. In terms of overall threat assessment in the region, the Indian Navy is conducting maritime security operations in three areas of operations: the Gulf of Aden and adjoining areas, the Arabian Sea and off the East Coast of Somalia. So far, since December 2023, the Navy has deployed over 5,000 personnel at sea, over 450 ship days (with over 21 ships deployed) and 900 hours of flying by the maritime surveillance aircraft to address threats in the maritime domain.


Under Admiral R. Hari Kumar, in his pursuit of a formidable blue-water force, the Navy has placed orders for 68 warships and vessels valued at approximately ₹2 lakh crore. Such goals serve India's maritime strategy, complementing the very idea of SAGAR--Safety and Growth for All in the Region-- while looking out for its geostrategic interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

In terms of overall capability, the Indian Navy boasts 132 warships, 143 aircraft, and 130 helicopters. Additionally, IN has received the 'acceptance of necessity' (AoN), for the construction of eight next-generation corvettes, nine submarines, five survey vessels, and two multi-purpose vessels.

The absence of China

It equally raised concerns that China refrained from interfering in such situations when it called for international cooperation against such vicious attacks. That puts fire to the already-established perceptions that China will not be willing to take calls for international cooperation and continue to disregard international rules of the sea, especially in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.

Indian Navy's successful maritime security operations have been commended internationally, establishing it as a 'First Responder' and 'Preferred Security Partner' in the Indian Ocean Region

Equally worrisome is the threat of Hypersonic missiles as the hijackers have announced their intentions beyond the usual drone attacks against merchant ships.

There are three major international cooperation in the maritime under the UN resolutions to protect the sea lines. First is Operation Atalanta which operates around the Horn of Africa and the western Indian Ocean by European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR). Next is called Operation Agenor which is led by a group of European countries and is responsible for the vast areas stretching in the Strait of Hormuz. The Agenor cuts through the critical commercial sea lines which are the common routes for oil trade. The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multinational maritime partnership led by the US and has 39 members, including NATO and European states, regional countries and other nations, the CMF has its area of operation in the Red Sea.

China's "nine-dash line" map

Notably, in all such international bodies, China remains unwilling to participate. While China has been a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) signatory, it is almost at war on international maritime law as it extends and asserts its sovereignty over significant parts of the maritime space depicted in the "nine-dash line" map. In constant friction with its neighbours—Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan--China claims roughly two million square kilometres of land features, including the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, and the Scarborough Reef.

The calibrated response, ingenuity and unflinching resolve displayed by the Indian Navy during the progress of ongoing maritime security operations under the aegis of 'Op Sankalp' has garnered international acclaim by the effects generated in safeguarding India's maritime interests, countering maritime threats, thwarting the resurgence of piracy and significantly denting narcotics trade in the IOR.


Manish Kumar Jha is a Defence Editor for SP's Aviation, SP's Land Forces and SP's Naval Forces and a security expert. He writes on national security, military technology, strategic affairs & policies.