Top naval commanders today cleared a new plan for deployment of warships in the Indian Ocean region to effectively counter China’s growing presence in the strategically key waters. The “new mission-based deployment” plan involves deploying mission-ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications, Navy sources said. The issue of China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean figured prominently on the second day of the four-day long naval commanders’ conference. The Indian Navy has been deploying its warships in the Indian Ocean region for carrying out anti-piracy patrol and providing humanitarian assistance.
The deployments are to be maintained round-the-clock now, said the sources. Chief of Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa addressed the conference during which they deliberated on a host of issues including deeper integration in functioning of the three forces. A host of operational issues, including efforts to make the Navy self-reliant and modernise its warfare capability, were also discussed. On the new deployment plan, the sources said Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has approved a new transition cycle for ships from maintenance periods to operational deployments that allows for a focused and gradual transition of ships from periods of maintenance layoffs to full scale operations.
Over the next two days, the Navy commanders are expected to discuss issues relating to safety. The Comptroller and Auditor General in July, in a report, had said the Indian Navy’s ships and submarines were involved in 38 accidents between 2007-08 and 2015-16, adversely affecting the operational preparedness of the force. The auditor had said the accidents were primarily attributable to fire, explosion and flooding, adding that the Navy had no institutionalised framework to deal with safety since its inception.