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Indian Navy enhanced presence of ships, aerial surveillance in central Arabian Sea: Govt

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Navy has enhanced deployment of ships and aerial surveillance in the central Arabian Sea and off east Coast of Somalia in restoring maritime security in the region, the government has said amid rising global concerns over Houthi militants targeting merchant ships in the Red Sea and adjoining areas.

Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt last Friday said, Indian Navy units are being deployed in strategic waters in Djibouti, Gulf of Aden as well as in the North Arabian Sea to provide security to merchant vessels.

The comments by Bhatt, while responding to separate questions in Lok Sabha, came as the Houthi militants continued to attack various cargo vessels in the Red Sea and other strategic waterways in the region apparently in response to Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

Bhatt said the Navy deployed its units in the Gulf of Aden and East coast of Africa in anti-piracy patrols since 2008 and a total of 3,440 ships and over 25,000 seafarers have been "safely escorted".

"The Indian Navy has enhanced the presence of ships, aerial surveillance by maritime patrol aircraft/remotely piloted aircraft in the central Arabian Sea and off the East Coast of Somalia towards restoring maritime security in the region," he said.

Bhatt said the Navy is also sharing information with friendly foreign countries to identify the sources and players involved in the attacks.

In the last few weeks, the Indian Navy extended assistance to a number of merchant vessels in the Arabian Sea following attacks on them.

Bhatt said the Navy has been proactively engaging with "regional and extra-regional" navies and maritime forces to promote security in the Indian Ocean region.

He said seven incidents of hijacking of vessels in high seas by pirates have been reported in the last three years.

Bhatt also mentioned the hijacking incidents involving merchant vessel Lila Norfolk, fishing vessel IMAN and AI Naeemi last month.

The Indian Navy played a key role in rescuing the vessels and their crew members.
The minister said since 2008, Indian Navy deployed its units in the Gulf of Aden and East coast of Africa towards anti-piracy patrols.

"Indian Navy units are regularly deployed on mission based deployments in our areas of interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to enhance maritime security," he said.

"Further, Indian Navy units undertake surveillance to enhance maritime domain awareness and address contingencies that may arise," he said.

"Since 2008, the Indian Navy has deployed units in the Gulf of Aden and the East coast of Africa towards anti-piracy patrols. A total of 3440 ships and over 25,000 seafarers have been safely escorted," he said.

Bhatt said the Navy's Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) has linkages with 25 partner nations and over 40 international multinational organisations for real time exchange of information towards enhancing maritime security.

He said in view of the ongoing maritime security situation in the region, Indian Navy units are being deployed off Djibouti, Gulf of Aden, in the North and Central Arabian Sea, off East Coast of Somalia for protection of merchant vessels and rendering assistance, if required.

"In addition, information exchange/intelligence sharing is also being undertaken with friendly foreign countries to identify the source/reason/players involved in the attacks/incidents," he said in a written reply.

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