Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has advised China not to trigger fresh tension in South Asia by sending warships to Arabian Sea.

Immediately after Beijing hinted that it would deploy warships and submarines at Pakistan’s Gwadar port to protect its trade and energy routes, Admiral Lanba said that India was confident of prevailing over the Asian giant. The Indian Navy chief said that although New Delhi had no plan to disrupt Beijing’s trade route, it would do so if China threatens India’s security. Admiral Lanba told the media earlier this week that India was closely monitoring movements of Chinese warships and submarines in the “strategic” Indian Ocean Region (IOR). He further advised China not to provoke India to take military action, saying that New Delhi would have to send warships to Arabian Sea, if China made such a move.

“We keep a close eye on Chinese warships and submarines, including nuclear ones, and constantly monitor their movements in the IOR. We have the capabilities, assets and plans in place to tackle any threat or challenge,” stressed Admiral Lanba. He informed China that India had no plan to turn the ongoing “competition” in the IOR into “a conflict”. At the same time, he said that Beijing should understand the fact that India could not lower its guard in its own strategic backyard. “The Indian Navy recognises the Chinese flag will go where the trade is,” added the Navy chief.

Meanwhile, Admiral Lanba admitted that India wanted a powerful three-dimensional blue-water Navy mainly to guard its huge strategic interests from Persian Gulf to Strait of Malacca and beyond. Otherwise, according to the Navy chief, it will be difficult for India to counter China’s deep inroads into the IOR. India is fully prepared to protect its daily transit of sea trade worth USD 2 billion and sprawling offshore assets, he said.

The South Asian country, which has 138 warships, including one aircraft carrier, 48 major warships and 14 submarines, and 235 aircraft and helicopters, plans to acquire 212 warships and 458 aircraft for its Navy by 2027. Admiral Lanba told the press that the Narendra Modi government recently allocated around USD 50 billion for constructing 36 warships, six conventional and two nuclear submarines. Currently, 40,000-tonne carrier ‘INS Vikrant’, seven ‘Shivalik’ follow-on stealth frigates, four Visakhapatnam-class missile destroyers, six Scorpene submarines and two nuclear submarines (SSBNs) are under construction.

As far as the proposed defence projects are concerned, India has decided to build six stealth conventional submarines with foreign collaboration. The initial groundwork for building 65,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier ‘INS Vishal’ is also in progress. New Delhi further plans to construct six nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) at Vizag and to purchase four Grigorovich-class frigates from Russia in the coming months to boost its naval strength.

“Even today, the Navy has over 40 warships, four submarines and 12 aircraft deployed in waters around the Indian peninsular and island territories. We are capable and ready to safeguard our national maritime interests anytime, anywhere, every time,” insisted Admiral Lanba. He claimed that it’s not difficult to track the movements of Chinese vessels lurking in the IOR. “Chinese submarines usually come on 90-day deployments to the IOR, with an Operational Turn-Around (OTR) at Karachi after 45 days or so. But they have to surface while crossing the Malacca, Sunda or Lombox Straits since the waters there are not deep enough,” explained the Indian Navy chief.

Beijing considers the Pakistani port as the gateway to the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]

7 COMMENTS

  1. Lots of Lanba’s blah-blah, instead of explaining the problem, i.e. why would Chine need to send its worships out to protect its trade routes, i.e the ongoing major commercial project (CPEC) with which China opens a new westward trade route through Pakistan. India sees it as favoring Pakistan, but Pakistan is for China simply the best solution for the purpose, and it is childish from India to expect that China would give up on it because India doesn’t like it. Even more childish are India’s confrontational games (what is India’s Navy exactly going to do about Chinese warships in Pakistani waters?), flirting with the US etc. since the biggest detriment by far would be for it to exclude itself from trade cooperation with China. Whoever is pushing for that course, is not working in the best interest of India.

    • A very incisive comment. We in Asean feel that India is always very paranoid about China. China is surprisingly is only interested in trade and trade and trade with India.

  2. So anyone who compares India to China is labelled as an “India hater” ? Why because India is WEAKER than China and is no match militarily or economically to China. Therefore Indian Trolls get p!ssed off and resort to personal attack.

  3. India follows the Royal Navy’s tradition of professional seamanship. Also we, the United States Navy, has it’s back. More so with President Trump. The Pakies are meddling in and letting the PLAN stick their collective noses into waters where they should not sail. The BIG plus is India is a democracy and China a ???hybrid of whatever. They are a land power attempting to become a sea-power. A bunch of “cute” looking ships dose not make a Navy. It is the traditions, professionalism, and pride that makes a Navy. USN Retired and Naval Historian

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