India step-ups its maritime security efforts, inks agreement to gather information on merchant navies in international waters

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New Delhi | Updated: December 12, 2018 5:32:41 PM

India inks Ascension Agreement to the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN) with Italy. The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.

navy, indian navy, maritime cooperationThe Indian Navy is also in the process of setting-up an Information Fusion Centre (IFC- IOR) to further their commitment towards achieving collective maritime security in the IOR. (IE)

India inks Ascension Agreement to the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN) with Italy. The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.

“The Indian Navy has the approval from the government to get in touch with a number of nations on technical agreement on exchanging information on white-shipping,” according to the Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.

This agreement is very important as it pertains to White Shipping awareness. The Indian Navy has signed White Shipping Information Exchange agreements with nineteen countries and operationalised them with twelve countries. White shipping refers to commercial shipping information of cargo ships and India alone cannot gather all the information.

Under the T-RMN, information is available mainly through the Automatic Identification System (AIS), fitted on the merchant ships with more than 300 Gross Registered Tonnage as mandated by the International Maritime Organisation. Among the information that is available through AIS includes name, MMSI number, position, course, speed, last port visited, and destination. This is picked up through various AIS sensors including coastal AIS chains and satellite based receivers.

The process of information sharing among the countries has been accorded renewed impetus at the highest level to enhance collective maritime security in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). India has inked several T-RMN agreements which facilitates information exchange on the movement of commercial traffic on the high seas and will contribute to increased maritime domain awareness.

According to Lanba, “The Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) of the Indian Navy have emerged as a virtual information hub for White Shipping Information in the region.”

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“Exchange of White Shipping Information would enable us to progressively increase awareness of our primary maritime areas of interest, with significant benefits, both in peace and conflict.”

The Indian Navy is also in the process of setting-up an Information Fusion Centre (IFC- IOR) to further their commitment towards achieving collective maritime security in the IOR, this is a separate platform and all members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) are expected to be part of it.

Though still a growing force, the Indian Navy has emerged as a potent and professional force and is in the process of strengthening its capabilities to ensure its maritime domain awareness.

Reportedly, to protect the waters and to maintain its dominance in the region, the Indian Navy needs 24×7 satellite coverage, 30-40 more Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the ability to launch small satellites at short notice, development of strategic ASW which would need seabed based sensors at choke points and in vital areas.

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