Will track down ship attackers from sea depths, says Rajnath; Navy deploys 4 warships, aircraft to protect merchant vessels | India News – Times of India

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New Delhi: In a stern warning to those threatening merchant vessels in the Indian Ocean Region, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said India will “track down those behind the recent drone attacks” on India-bound commercial ships “even from the depths of seas” and take tough action against them.
The minister’s strong remarks came in Mumbai where he commissioned the newly-developed stealth guided missile destroyer ‘INS Imphal’, the country’s first warship to be named after a city from the Northeast and the third of four ‘Visakhapatnam-class’ warships developed and designed by the Navy.
In the wake of attacks on merchant navy ships MV Chem Pluto and MV Sai Baba, the Navy has already deployed four state-of-the-art warships and surveillance aircraft in the Arabian Sea to ward off any attack on commercial sea traffic.
While calling INS Imphal — with 75% indigenous content, enhanced stealth features, state-of-the-art equipment and weapons — a symbol of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence, Singh, accompanied by Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, said, “India’s growing economic and strategic power has filled some forces with jealousy and hatred. The government has taken the attacks on MV Chem Pluto in the Arabian Sea and attack on MV Sai Baba in the Red Sea very seriously. We will find those who executed the recent attacks on merchant navy ships and take strict action against them. The perpetrators will be brought to justice.”
India is the “net security provider (for) the entire Indian Ocean region”, the defence minister said, stressing that the government will “work with friendly nations” and ensure the safety of maritime trade in the region.
Rajnath reiterated the Modi government’s resolve to lay equal emphasis on the modernisation of all the three services to safeguard national interests, stating that earlier governments focussed only on protecting the country from land-based threats, not dangers from the sea. He pointed out that with the Himalayas in the north and the hostile behaviour of Pakistan in the west, most of India’s goods trade comes through sea, which makes it an island country from a ‘trade’ perspective.
Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar pointed out that the Navy had already deployed four destroyers of project 15B & 15A class besides P8I surveillance aircraft, Dorniers, Sea Guardians, helicopters and Coast Guard ships to jointly counter the threats.
Moreover, Western Naval Command’s Maritime Operations Centre is actively monitoring the situation along the Indian Ocean Region in close coordination with the Indian Coast Guard and all agencies concerned.
On the explosives analysis of the attack on MV Chem Pluto, the Navy chief said the debris had been collected. “I don’t want to take any guesses. It (the drone attack) can be made from anywhere….We are analysing it to see what type of attack it is.”
Since November 19, there have been 30 drone and piracy attacks in the region, which means roughly one attack a day. Earlier, there were barely four to five incidents a year, Admiral Kumar said. “The frequency of attacks has definitely gone up. We have decided to take very robust action to protect our merchant shipping,” he said.
On the anti-piracy operations, he said that through ‘Operation Sankalp’ in the north Arabian Sea, the Navy has been having continuous presence to ensure the safety of ships. “We have two major platforms in the Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman. In the central to north Arabian Sea, we have two more units deployed. We are going to augment that further,” the Navy chief said.
The naming of INS Imphal underscores the contribution of the Northeast region (Manipur) to the nation, a Navy statement said. Its keel was laid on May 19, 2017 and the ship was launched on April 20, 2019. The ship sailed for her maiden sea sortie on April 28, 2023, and underwent comprehensive trials in harbour & at sea, with its delivery on October 20, 2023 marking a record time frame of less than six months. The ship successfully completed the first-ever test-firing of extended range Brahmos missile prior to its commissioning, making it ‘weapon-ready’.


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