Oman on Monday (Sept 27, 2021) became the 22nd country to sign a White Shipping Agreement with India.
The agreement was inked at Maritime Security Center (MSC), Muscat, between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman in the presence Rear Admiral Saif bin Nasser bin Mohsen Al-Rahbi, Commander of Royal Navy of Oman (CRNO) and Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS).
Why is this agreement important?
This agreement will help in exchanging information on the merchant shipping traffic movement, through IFC-IOR (Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region. It will help in enhancing maritime security and safety in the region.
The Indian Navy in its global outreach has so far associated with around 21 countries and 22 multi-national agencies which will help in sharing information related to maritime activities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in real time.
In the IOR, at any given time, the Navy monitors more than 12,000 ships and 300 fishing vessels. Also, it keeps a watch on more than three lakh Indian fishing vessels which are operating in the seas.
Why is IOR important?
The region accounts for 75 per cent of the world`s maritime trade and 50 percent of global consumption passes through it prompting security measures involving multiple countries.
Such an agreement is inked with 21 countries including France, Japan, Australia, Italy, the US, Bangladesh, the Maldives, New Zealand, Myanmar, and Mauritius among others. There are 22 multi-national agencies too which help in sharing information of the movements in IOR.
In December 2018, the IFC which is located at Gurugram and this helps to facilitate maritime information to all the member countries.
So far several countries including the US, France, and Japan have posted their liaison officers (LO) at the IFC-IOR and talks are going on with other countries to send their LOs soon.
As reported earlier the Indian Navy has been given an approval to ink the White Shipping agreement with 36 countries. 17 such agreements are inked and operationalised.
India and Oman Maritime Cooperation
The next edition of naval exercise ‘Naseem Al Bahr’ between the two countries is scheduled to take place next year. Due to COVID-protocols in place the naval drill last year was conducted in 2020 off Goa and it was contactless.
According to the Indian Navy, Naval Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, is on a three day visit to that country (Sept 27-29) and the focus is to explore new avenues for defence cooperation as well to consolidate the bilateral defence relations between the two countries.
He is meeting with his counterpart Rear Admiral Saif bin Nasser bin Mohsen Al-Rahbi, who is the Commander of Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) in Muscat.
The Indian chief is slated to visit major defence installations in Oman including the Maritime Security Centre (MSC), Said Bin Sultan Naval Base, National Defence College, Muaskar Al Murtafa (MAM) Camp, and Al Musannah Air Base.
Interaction with Air Vice Marshal Khamis Bin Hammad Bin Sultan Al Ghafri (Commander of Royal Air Force of Oman), Vice Admiral Abdullah Khamis Abdullah Al Raisi (Chief of Staff Sultan’s Armed Forces), Dr Mohammad Bin Nasser Bin Ali Al Zaabi (Secretary General, MoD), and Maj Gen Matar Bin Salim Bin Rashid Al Balushi (Commander of Royal Army of Oman) are on the agenda.