Friday, October 17, 2008

India Projects Maritime Power on High Seas

India says it will send warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect its container vessels from pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, according to a BBC report today.

Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia. In August, 18 Indian sailors were captured by the Somali pirates who claim they are protecting Somali waters. The Gulf of Aden has seen 13 incidents of hijack in the last two months. While some analysts have expressed fears of terror connections in lawless Somalia, others believe that the pirates are only interested in kidnapping for ransom. However, there are charges that some of the piracy proceeds have gone to al-Shabab, a Somali militia that the U.S. accuses of harboring the terrorists who attacked U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Piracy off the coast of Somalia is estimated to have cost up to $30m (£17m) in ransoms so far this year, according to a recent report by a UK think tank. The pirates, some backed by warlords affiliated with the transitional government installed by Ethiopia with the US backing, have exploited the chaos.

The rise in piracy in Gulf of Aden is seen by some as an unintended consequence of the US war on terror, according to Newsweek magazine. Two years ago piracy in the Horn of Africa was almost stamped out. The Islamic group that took over Mogadishu and parts of Somalia in 2006 defeated several militias involved in piracy and warned others that they'd face punishment under a harsh version of the Sharia law. This tactic worked: "During the summer of 2006 there were no attacks [on ships] at all," says Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau.

The Indian Navy is the world’s fifth largest navy. It is proud of its "blue water" capability to operate on the high seas away from the Indian shores to project India's power in the Indian ocean and to "protect" major sea routes and "impress" its neighbors. It is a three-dimensional force consisting of sophisticated missile-equipped warships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers, advanced submarines and the latest aircraft in its arsenal. India's Naval forces are maintained and supported by modern dockyard facilities with state-of-the-art technology. The Indian Navy has two major Naval bases at Mumbai and Visakhapatnam on the two coasts of India. The Chinese PLA Navy, the other major power in Asia, has ambitious plans to become the world's largest force but it currently lacks any aircraft carriers.

In 2000, the Indian Navy deployed a fleet in the South China Sea for the first time, bringing rebukes from China. Just three years later, China deployed its ships to the Indian Ocean, conducting exercises first with the Indian Navy and then with its traditional partner and India's archenemy in the region, Pakistan. Pakistan Navy is a much smaller force but it claims to be a "four-dimensional" force including marine units. It is not capable of undertaking the kind of missions that the Indian Navy recently has. In 2002, the Indian Navy conducted patrols in the Strait of Malacca to guard high-value cargo ships from attack, relieving a U.S. vessel and freeing it for other missions related to U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom.

The US Navy has been operating in the Gulf of Aden for months, claiming some success in foiling hijacking attempts by the Somalis. The area in question is a 920- by 300-mile basin separating the Arabian coast from the Horn of Africa. It is used by about 250 ships a day, according to a U.S. Navy spokeswoman, Lt. Stephanie Murdock. The Associated Press has reported that the area was the scene of the deadly al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole off Yemen. And it is a hive of illegal activity, including gunrunning as well as people- and drug-smuggling. The Indian Navy along with navy ships from several other nation will probably be helpful in dealing with piracy. But can the naval power alone succeed in stemming the growing problem of robbery on the high seas in the Indian ocean? I seriously doubt it. The piracy problem is only a symptom of the core problem of lawlessness in Somalia. What is really needed is the restoration of a functioning government in Mogadishu to deal with this menace and other terror-related problems in the Horn of Africa.

Related Links:

Stuck in Somalia

US Targets Somali Pirates

India as a Maritime Power

Indian Navy

China's PLA Navy

Pakistan Navy


Riaz Haq said...

A Russian designed anti-ship missile called Sizzler is raising concerns for large warship safety, even the safety of aircraft carriers, of the US Navy in case conflict with Russia, China or Iran. India is also said to possess Sizzler missiles posing a threat to Pakistan Navy. Here are excerpts from an Economist magazine story "Peril on the sea":

"The Sizzler is the leading example of a growing class of supersonic cruise missiles designed by non-Western countries. Versions of it, and its competitors, can be launched from submarines, aircraft and vehicles. The Yakhont, a slightly slower Russian missile that also carries a heavy warhead, has been sold to countries including Indonesia and Vietnam. The BrahMos, a joint Indian and Russian upgrade of the Yakhont, comes even closer to matching the Sizzler’s effectiveness.

These non-Western supersonic missiles are changing defence thinking. To begin with, uncertainty about ship “survivability” is increasing as missiles proliferate, says Steve Zaloga, a missile expert at Teal Group, an aerospace consultancy in Fairfax, Virginia. China and India already have Sizzlers and countries that have indicated interest in, or bought, the Sizzler or versions of it include Algeria, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Some think Iran probably has Sizzlers too."

"Iran is one country gaining naval power without much in the way of sophisticated ships. It has large numbers of anti-ship missiles which can be launched from small, fast boats or batteries hidden ashore in buildings or trucks. Defence officials are troubled by the prospect of missiles that can be launched from civilian positions. A product designed by Concern Morinformsystem-AGAT, the Russian company behind the Sizzler, may heighten such fears. The firm now offers a four-missile launching package hidden inside a standard commercial shipping container. It could be transported on a ship, train or big lorry. Called the Club-K Container Missile System, it provides dangerous potential to rogue forces, says a Western arms-market consultant who has visited the manufacturer’s facilities in Russia."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an APP report on the 2011 Aman multi-national exercise with navies from USA, UK, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in Karachi, Pakistan:

KARACHI, March 7 (APP): The multinational Naval exercise Aman 2011 will be conducted from March 8 to 12 in the Arabian Sea under the arrangements of Pakistan Navy.This was stated by the Commander Pakistan Fleet, Vice-Admiral Abbas Raza,here on Monday.Briefing the newsmen about the event, he said that a total of 39 countries along with their Naval assets would participate in this exercise.Admiral Abbas pointed out that the major Naval forces have started assembling in Pakistani waters for the cause of international maritime peace.

He stated that Naval ships from 11 different countries including USA, UK, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have arrived here on Monday to participate in the multinational Naval Exercise Aman 2011.
It was pointed out that the large scale exercise is being conducted from March 8 to 12 in the Arabian Sea under arrangements of Pakistan Navy.
Maritime air platforms from Japan, Australia and USA have arrived here on Sunday. In addition, Special Operation Forces, explosive ordnance, disposal experts and marines teams from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China and USA are also participating.
Upon entering the Karachi harbor, the participating ships were given a warm welcome by PN officers and sailors with military bands playing national tunes.
Exercise Aman 2011 is third in line of its biennial series of exercises being conducted off Pakistan’s coast. First exercise Aman was held in March 2007 followed by Aman in March 2009.
Admiral Abbas further stated that Aman series of exercises have been aimed at promoting interoperability and mutual understanding between friendly regional and extra regional nations to put up a collective response to multi-faceted threats like narco trade, human smuggling, gun-running and terrorism etc.
He said that in the past few years piracy at high seas has presented a formidable challenge to the countries around the globe. It is not possible for any one country to single handedly deal with these threats.
Resultantly, nations around the world have re-strategized their roles to deal with this ominous threats and the concept of ‘collective and collaborative’ security especially in the maritime domain has gained greater pre-eminence than ever before.
Admiral Abbas said that Aman Series of exercises are an effort from Pakistan and Pakistan Navy to promote maritime security awareness in the region. The main focus of the exercise Aman 2011 is to project united resolve against maritime terrorism and other crimes.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Chinese Xinhua report on Aman 2011 exercises getting underway near Karachi, Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Delegations of 40 countries from all over the world reached Pakistan to take part in naval exercises, coded "Peace-11 Exercises," which officially kicked off on Tuesday, reported local English daily Express Tribune.

Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Abbas Raza said that since the Mumbai attacks, the Maritime Security Agency and Indian Coast Guards have established a special hotline to stay in direct contact to avoid any future untoward incidents.

The commander answered questions at a briefing held for the media at the fleet headquarters in Karachi on Monday about the Aman-11 exercise, in which around 40 countries are participating.

Raza said the magnitude of the threat in the seas had diversified over the years which included terrorism, weapons smuggling, narcotics trade, human trafficking and piracy.

"It is not possible for any one country to single-handedly deal with all these threats," he said, adding that there was a dire need for "collective and collaborative" security.

The Aman series of exercises, which formally begin on Tuesday, is one example of promoting mutual understanding and interoperability between regional and friendly countries against asymmetric threats, he said.

Naval ships from all over the world have started to arrive in Karachi to participate in the exercise which will be conducted between March 8 and March 12. Around eleven countries, including the U.S., UK, China, France, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia have sent their ships and Special Marines Forces for participation.

Twenty-eight countries, including Russia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, South Korea and Netherlands have sent their delegations to participate in the exercise as observers.

When asked whether India was asked to participate since this was a regional exercise, Raza said that would only become possible once relations between the two countries improve.

He said Iran and Bangladesh chose not to participate despite invitations. Sri Lanka, too, backed out at the last minute.

He said that piracy at sea remained a formidable challenge which had now spread out to the Indian Ocean from initially being limited to just the Strait of Malacca.

"We are keeping track of ship movements through the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation," the Vice Admiral informed about the anti-piracy efforts.

When asked if the recent strain in diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the U.S. had any adverse effect on them, Raza said professional cooperation between the armed forces were excellent.

Meanwhile, Chinese naval ships were accorded a warm welcome when they arrived at the Karachi harbor on Monday. Talking to the media, Commanding Officer of the Chinese ship said that the long- standing Sino-Pakistan friendship was beyond all boundaries.

The Aman-11 exercise is the third in line of its biennial series of exercises being conducted off Pakistan's coast. The first exercise Aman-07 was held in March 2007 followed by Aman-09 in March 2009.

Riaz Haq said...

11 #Indians, 24 other foreigners, Rescued by #Pakistan Navy From #Yemen … via @ndtv

The Pakistan Naval Ship PNS Aslat has left for Pakistan after successfully evacuating 148 citizens and 35 foreigners, including 11 Indians, from Mokallah, Pakistan's Foreign Office said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian Navy forgot to close the hatch on $3 billion #submarine #Arihant, caused extensive damage that almost sunk it. #India #IndianNavy

The modern submarine is not a simple machine. A loss of propulsion, unexpected flooding, or trouble with reactors or weapons can doom a sub crew to a watery grave.

Also, it’s a good idea to, like, close the hatches before you dive.

Call it a lesson learned for the Indian navy, which managed to put the country’s first nuclear-missile submarine, the $2.9 billion INS Arihant, out of commission in the most boneheaded way possible.

The Hindu reported yesterday that the Arihant has been out of commission since suffering “major damage” some 10 months ago, due to what a navy source characterized as a “human error” — to wit: allowing water to flood to sub’s propulsion compartment after failing to secure one of the vessel’s external hatches.

Water “rushed in as a hatch on the rear side was left open by mistake while [the Arihant] was at harbor” in February 2017, shortly after the submarine’s launch, The Hindu reports. Since then, the sub “has been undergoing repairs and clean up,” according to the paper: “Besides other repair work, many pipes had to be cut open and replaced.”

It’s hard to articulate how major a foul-up this is, but Kyle Mizokami does a good job at Popular Mechanics: Indian authorities ordered the pipe replacement because they “likely felt that pipes exposed to corrosive seawater couldn't be trusted again, particularly pipes that carry pressurized water coolant to and from the ship’s 83 megawatt nuclear reactor.” For context, a submarine assigned to Britain’s Royal Navy narrowly avoided a complete reactor meltdown in 2012 after the power sources for its coolant system failed.

The incident is also quite an embarrassment — and strategic concern — for the Indian Armed Forces. A Russian Akula-class attack sub modified to accommodate a variety of ballistic missiles, the Arihant represented a major advance in India’s nuclear triad after its completion in October 2016. (India in 1974 became the 6th country to conduct a successful nuclear test.) Indeed, the Arihant’s ability to deliver K-15 short-range and K-4 intermediate-range nuclear missiles was envisioned as a powerful deterrent against India’s uneasy nuclear state neighbor, Pakistan.

“Arihant is the most important platform within India’s nuclear triad covering land-air-sea modes,” the Hindu reports. Well, it’s important if it works — and it probably helps to make your submarine watertight.

This is just some sloppy, dangerous seamanship, and the Indian Navy better get its act together fast. Either that, or perhaps follow the Royal Navy’s lead and install the 2001-era Windows XP as an operating system on all your most vital vessels. That way, you can blame the blue screen of death instead of “human error” for the next critical foul-up. Although even outdated software probably knows enough to dog down on all the hatches.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s Only #AircraftCarrier Recently Caught On #Fire And #China Says It’s Due to incompetence of #IndianNavy men | The National Interest

ndia’s only aircraft carrier suffered a fire that left one sailor dead.

And China, which is India’s rival, says this is because Indians aren’t competent enough to operate advanced military equipment.

The fire broke out in the engine room of the carrier Vikramaditya as it entered the Indian naval base at Karwar on April 26.

The blaze was extinguished, but not before an Indian Navy lieutenant commander, who led the firefighting effort, was overcome by fumes and later died in hospital, according to Indian media. He had gotten married just a month earlier.

The Indian Navy reported that the fire had not seriously damaged the combat capabilities of the vessel, which is India’s only operational carrier. The 45,000-ton Vikramaditya – the ex-Soviet carrier Admiral Gorshkov -- had just completed a deployment in the Arabian Sea, and was preparing to begin joint exercises with the French Navy’s only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, off the Indian coast.

The cause of the fire has not yet been disclosed. But Chinese media quickly ran a story that suggested the fire was the result of Indian incompetence. Li Jie, a Chinese naval expert, told the state-owned Global Times newspaper “that the fire was more likely to be out of human error rather than mechanical problems. The fire and the extinguishing process suggested that they are unprofessional and unprepared to address such an emergency, he said.”

“India has been actively developing its military in recent years, but ‘its military culture is lax and it has loose regulations,’ which cannot effectively train soldiers to operate advanced military equipment, Li said.”

That criticism comes despite that fact that India has far more experience than China in operating aircraft carriers. India’s first carrier, the Vikrant, a former World War II British carrier, was commissioned in 1961. It performed combat duty in the 1971 India-Pakistan War. China’s first carrier, the Liaoning – the ex-Soviet carrier Varyag – wasn’t commissioned until 2012. It has yet to see action.

Ironically, both India and China are in the midst of ramping up their carrier fleets. India is completing a new Vikrant, which will be the nation’s first domestically-produced carrier. It has also announced plans to build a 65,000-ton carrier, which might even be based on the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class vessels.

Riaz Haq said...

All the Reasons Why #India Hates the #Aircraft Carrier It Bought from #Russia. Vikramaditya cost $2.2 billion, more than 2x the initial agreed price, and still lacks active air defenses. #indiannavy

Like a lot of countries, India wants the best weapons it can afford. But ideological and financial concerns mean there are a lot of things it won’t buy from the United States or Europe. That pretty much leaves, well, Russia.

India has been a big buyer of Russian weapons for 50 years. Those haven’t been easy years for New Delhi. India’s defense contracts with Russia have consistently suffered delays and cost overruns. And the resulting hardware doesn’t always work.

Of all India’s Russian procurement woes, none speak more to the dysfunctional relationship between the two countries than the saga of INS Vikramaditya. In the early 2000s, India went shopping for a new aircraft carrier. What followed was a military-industrial nightmare.

Wanted—one new(ish) carrier

In 1988, the Soviet Union commissioned the aircraft carrier Baku. She and her four sisters of the Kiev class represented a unique Soviet design. The front third resembled a heavy cruiser, with 12 giant SS-N-12 anti-ship missiles, up to 192 surface-to-air missiles and two 100-millimeter deck guns. The remaining two-thirds of the ship was basically an aircraft carrier, with an angled flight deck and a hangar.

Baku briefly served in the Soviet navy until the USSR dissolved in 1991. Russia inherited the vessel, renamed her Admiral Gorshkov and kept her on the rolls of the new Russian navy until 1996. After a boiler room explosion, likely due to a lack of maintenance, Admiral Gorshkov went into mothballs.

In the early 2000s, India faced a dilemma. The Indian navy’s only carrier INS Viraat was set to retire in 2007. Carriers help India assert influence over the Indian Ocean—not to mention, they’re status symbols. New Delhi needed to replace Viraat, and fast.

India’s options were limited. The only countries building carriers at the time—the United States, France and Italy—were building ships too big for India’s checkbook. In 2004, India and Russia struck a deal in which India would receive Admiral Gorshkov. The ship herself would be free, but India would pay $974 million dollars to Russia to upgrade her.

It was an ambitious project. At 44,500 tons, Admiral Gorshkov was a huge ship. Already more than a decade old, she had spent eight years languishing in mothballs. Indifference and Russia’s harsh winters are unkind to idle ships.

Russia would transform the vessel from a helicopter carrier with a partial flight deck to an aircraft carrier with a launch ramp and a flight deck just over 900 feet long. She would be capable of supporting 24 MiG-29K fighters and up to 10 Kamov helicopters.

She would have new radars, new boilers for propulsion, new arrester wires for catching landing aircraft and new deck elevators. All 2,700 rooms and compartments—spread out over 22 decks—would be refurbished and new wiring would be laid throughout the ship. The “new” carrier would be named Vikramaditya, after an ancient Indian king.


Finally, Vikramaditya lacks active air defenses. The ship has chaff and flare systems to lure away anti-ship missiles, but she doesn’t have any close-in weapons systems like the American Phalanx.

India could install local versions of the Russian AK-630 gun system, but missiles will have to wait until the ship is in drydock again—and that could be up to three years from now. In the meantime, Vikramaditya will have to rely on the new Indian air-defense destroyer INS Kolkata for protection from aircraft and missiles.

As for Sevmash? After the Vikramaditya fiasco, the yard is strangely upbeat about building more carriers … and has identified Brazil as a possible buyer. “Sevmash wants to build aircraft carriers,” said Sergey Novoselov, the yard’s deputy general director.