தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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International Relations
in an Emerging Multi Lateral World
The Indian Ocean Region: A  Story Told with Pictures

- from Coco Islands to Chittagong, to Visakhapatanam,  to Andaman Islands, to Stirling, to Sethusamudram, to Trincomalee, to Hambantota, to Maldives, to Diego Garcia, to Madagascar, to Cochin  to Karwar and to Gwador

 [collated and sequenced by Nadesan Satyendra]

Indian Ocean - Global View

"Whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia. This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century, the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters." US Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan quoted by Cdr. P K Ghosh in Maritime Security Challenges in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, 18 January 2004

".. the world is not rotating on the axis of human justice. Every country in this world advances its own interests. It is economic and trade interests that determine the order of the present world, not the moral law of justice nor the rights of people. International relations and diplomacy between countries are determined by such interests. Therefore we cannot expect an immediate recognition of the moral legitimacy of our cause by the international community." Velupillai Pirabaharan, Leader of Tamil Eelam, Maha Veera Naal Address - November 1993

Indian Ocean Region & the Tamil Eelam Struggle for Freedom
Indian Ocean is the third largest body of water in the world
A major sea lane boasting rich living and non-living resources
Indian Ocean & German U Boats during World War II
Maritime Balance of Power in the Asia-Pacific
Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean US  India  China Japan Australia Malaysia
Myanmar, Coco Island - China
Chittagong, Bangladesh - China
Visakhapatnam Naval Base, Andhra Pradesh - India
INS Kattabomman,Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu - India
Andaman Islands & the Straits of Malacca - a Choke Point
Stirling, Cockburn Sound, West Australia
Sethusamudram Project - India
Kappal Oddiya Thamilan
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka - India - US
Hambantota, Sri Lanka - China
Marao, Maldives - China
Diego Garcia - US
Madagascar -  India
Cochin in Kerala - India
Karwar, Karnataka - India
Gwador, Pakistan - China
Indian Ocean Region - a Satellite View
Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies - Course Curriculum
Declaration of the Indian Ocean  as a Zone of Peace, 1971

Indian Ocean  Region & the Tamil Eelam Struggle for Freedom - Nadesan Satyendra, 24 May 2007

Given the key roles played in the Tamil Eelam struggle for freedom by India, the United States and China (with lesser roles for the European Union, Japan and Pakistan)  it is not without importance for the Tamil people to further their own understanding of the foreign policy objectives of these countries - this is more so because the record shows that British Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston was right when he remarked 150 years ago 

'We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.'

States do not have permanent friends but have only permanent interests. And, it is these interests that they pursue, whether overtly or covertly. Furthermore, the interests of a state are a function of the interests of groups which wield power within that state and  'foreign policy is the external manifestation of domestic institutions, ideologies and other attributes of the polity'.

In the end, the success of the Tamil Eelam struggle for freedom will be a function of the capacity of the leadership of the struggle to mobilise its own people and its own resources at the broadest and deepest level - and this means, amongst other things, broadening and deepening  the understanding of  the Tamil people of the motivations of the international actors in relation to the struggle for Tamil Eelam. Otherwise we will continue to confuse our people by leading them to believe that all that needs to be done is to wake up the international community to the justice of our cause and all will be well.  Unfortunately  the world is not rotating on the axis of human justice.

In an important sense for the past 25 years and more,  it will be true to say that two conflicts have raged in the island of Sri Lanka. One is the conflict arising from the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam to free themselves from alien Sinhala rule. And the other is the conflict resulting from the struggle between international actors for power and influence in the Indian Ocean region - a struggle reflected in the two geo political triangles: U.S.- India - China relations and China - Pakistan - India relations. For the US we may read the Trilaterals i.e. US, European Union (including UK) and Japan. But that is not to say that the interests of the Trilaterals have always been congruent with each other - Iraq is a recent example.

Furthering our understanding of the strategic interests of the 'international community' (i.e. the Trilaterals,  India and China ) will better equip us to engage in the real task of  addressing those interests - and indeed, engaging with them. Each one of us (both Tamils and the 'international community')  may want to remind ourselves yet again of the words of Sri Aurobindo, written a century ago in June 1907 -

"The mistake which despots, benevolent or malevolent, have been making ever since organised states came into existence and which, it seems, they will go on making to the end of the chapter, is that they overestimate their coercive power, which is physical and material and therefore palpable, and underestimate the power and vitality of ideas and sentiments. 

A feeling or a thought, the aspiration towards liberty, cannot be estimated in the terms of concrete power, in so many fighting men, so many armed police, so many guns, so many prisons, such and such laws, ukases, and executive powers. But such feelings and thoughts are more powerful than fighting men and guns and prisons and laws and ukases..."

Each one of us may also want to pay more careful attention to the story line in Gillo Pontecorvo's film, Queimeda -

"... (The captured leader of the liberation struggle) Jose Dolores does not assail his captor; he tries to inspire and convert him. He tells the young man (who guards him)  that he does not wish to be released because this would only indicate that it was convenient for his enemy. What serves his enemies is harmful to him. "Freedom is not something a man can give you," he tells the boy. Dolores is cheered by the soldier's questions because, ironically, in men like the soldier who helps to put him to death, but who is disturbed and perplexed by Dolores, he sees in germination the future revolutionaries of Queimada. To enter the path of consciousness is to follow it to rebellion.....Pontecorvo zooms to Walker as he listens to Dolores' final message which breaks his silence: "Ingles, remember what you said. Civilization belongs to whites. But what civilization? Until when?" The stabbing of Walker on his way to the ship by an angry rebel comes simultaneously with a repetition of the Algerian cry for freedom. It is followed, accompanied by percussion, by a pan of inscrutable, angry black faces on the dock. The frame freezes, fixing their expressions indelibly in our minds.."

And perhaps each one of us may  also want to pay  more careful attention to the words of  Professor Johan Galtung , uttered not a hundred years ago (and said not in a film)  but more recently in February this year in an interview with a Sinhala journalist -

"..But imagine it happens: Killinochchi is flattened, Mr P is dead, LTTE dissolved. Will the Tamil dream of a Tamil Eelam die? Of course not. It will be revived, and new cycles of violence will occur. And probably new CFAs. And possibly the same mistake, confusing ceasefire with peace, using it as a sleeping pillow to do nothing..."

அச்சம் என்பது மடமையடா, அஞ்சாமை திராவிடர் உடமையடா..

Indian Ocean is the third largest body of water in the world

The oceans of the world occupy 70 percent of the earth's surface and interestingly, on average,  about 70% of the earth's population live within 150 kilometres of a coastline. Forty seven countries  have the Indian Ocean on their shores. The Indian Ocean is the third largest body of water in the world. The first is the Pacific Ocean and the second is the Atlantic Ocean.  The Indian Ocean occupies 20 percent of the world’s ocean surface - it is nearly 10,000 kilometers  wide at the southern tips of Africa and Australia and its area is 68.556 million  square kilometers , about 5.5 times the size of the US. 

The Indian Ocean includes Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Flores Sea, Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Java Sea, Mozambique Channel, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Savu Sea, Strait of Malacca, and Timor Sea.  The decision by the International Hydrographic Organization in the spring of 2000 to delimit a fifth ocean, the Southern Ocean, removed the portion of the Indian Ocean south of 60 degrees south latitude.

The many islands in the Indian Ocean include Coco Islands, Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka, Maldives,  Diego Garcia, Seychelles and Mauritius. And the sea ports include Chittagong in Bangladesh;  Trincomalee, Colombo and (Hambantota - planned) in Sri Lanka;  Freemantle in Western Australia;  Visakhapatnam, Cochin, Karwar in India, Gwador and Ormara in Pakistan, Port Louis in Mauritius, Port Victoria in Seychelles, and Phuket in  Thailand.

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean is a major sea lane with rich living and non-living resources

Shipping accounts for 90 percent of world trade in goods.

World Fact Book, C.I.A. - "An estimated 40% of the world's offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. Beach sands rich in heavy minerals and offshore placer deposits are actively exploited by bordering countries, particularly India, South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand... "

The role of the Indian Ocean in Facilitating Global Maritime Trade, Nazery Khalid, June 2005 - "The Indian Ocean ...is a major sea lane connecting Middle East, East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas. Boasting rich living and non-living resources, from marine life to oil and natural gas, IO is economically crucial to Africa, Asia and Australasia, the three continents bordering it, and the world at large....The Indian Ocean is a critical waterway for global trade and commerce. This strategic expanse hosts heavy international maritime traffic that includes half of the world’s containerized cargo, one third of its bulk cargo and two third of its oil shipment. Its waters carry heavy traffic of petroleum and petroleum products from the oilfields of the Persian Gulf and Indonesia, and contain an estimated 40% of the world's offshore oil production...

The Ocean features four critically important access waterways facilitating international maritime trade - the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen), Straits of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malacca (bordering Indonesia and Malaysia). These “chokepoints” or narrow channels are critical to world oil trade as huge amounts of oil pass through them. "

Indian Ocean Sea Lanes

Indian Ocean & German U Boats during World War II

Marcin Jedrzejewski on  U-boats in the Indian Ocean and the Far East  - "The German Monsun U-boats were perhaps the most special "wolfpack" in the war as they operated very far from Germany and its occupied countries, namely in the Indian Ocean out of japanese provided bases in Indonesia."

Lawrence Paterson - Hitler's Grey Wolves: U-Boats in the Indian Ocean - " ...Next to nothing has been written about the U-boat war in the Indian Ocean. This is the story of a forgotten campaign. The battle began in August 1943, when a German submarine arrived in the Malaysian harbour of Georgetown. In total, nearly fourty U-boats were assigned to penetrate the Indian Ocean, serving alongside troops of the occupying Imperial Japanese forces..."

German U Boats - Indian Ocean

Maritime Balance of Power in the Asia-Pacific

Maritime Balance of Power in the Asia-Pacific - Report of a Conference Organised
by the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Singapore, 8th – 9th March 2005

Barry Desker, Director IDSS, Singapore  - "the emergence of new powers like China and India is expected to transform the regional strategic landscape in a fashion that could be as dramatic as the rise of Germany in the 19th century and the United States in the 20th century"

Sam Bateman, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Singapore "...India continues to have the most powerful navy; dominating the Indian Ocean. India’s maritime influence is extending eastwards, and as a consequence it will become a greater player in regional political and security affairs. This is essentially part of its effort to counter any advancement of Chinese naval power in the Indian Ocean. India is also actively developing its strategic relationship with the US and by doing so has further boosted its role in the region. Naval development will continue to be a top priority of the Indian armed forces and there will be a re-establishment of a credible aircraft carrier capability in the near future. .. there are serious long term implications of India’s apparent desire to demonstrate a capability to operate East of Singapore, and China’s similar intentions to operate into the Indian Ocean.”

Dr Eric Grove "..the move towards the littoral is the latest in a series of ‘oscillations’ driven by strategic and technological factors: navies moved out to sea in the 18th century, and then back to the littoral in the 19th century. By the Second World War, littoral power projection along with the battle for sea control had manifested themselves in terms of amphibious landing crafts and carrier air power. This trend was reinforced during the Cold War where the confrontation of Soviet and Western navies on the high seas created a new ‘blue water’ emphasis to naval doctrines.

It was only after the Cold War where there was a return to the current littoral priority. This ‘power projection’ paradigm is being followed by all the world’s major navies, with the paradigm taken to mean the deployment of stand-off military capabilities that are able to deliver significant force either to deter or coerce. The definition of the littoral has also been stretched in the wake of Operation ‘Enduring Freedom’ where Afghanistan, a land locked country, was converted into the littoral with US carrier based aircraft conducting most of the bombing missions. This demonstrated that aircraft carriers could substitute for the lack of a host nation in providing bases and support. Hence, power projection assets are becoming the centerpieces of the world’s advanced navies. Furthermore, this emphasis on power projection increases the disconnect between the higher levels of contemporary naval doctrine and the more traditional aspects of ‘sea power’, notably merchant shipping..."

Donald L. Berlin, Head of Security Studies, Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii  "The Indian ocean region had become the strategic heartland of the 21st century, dislodging Europe and North East Asia which adorned this position in the 20th century.. the developments in the Indian Ocean region were contributing to the advent of a less Western centric and a more multi-polar world."

Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean  for US

Lt Gen (Retd) Sardar F.S.Lodi  in  Indian Ocean and our Security, March 2000 - "It was Admiral Alfred T. Mahan (1840-1914) of the United States Navy who is reported to have said that who ever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene. Admiral Mahan was a great Naval strategic thinker and historian who was in many ways the Naval equivalent of the Army's Clausewitz (General Karl Von Clausewitz of Germany). It was in 1890 that Mahan wrote the famous treatise on 'The influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783' that changed Naval thinking in the United States." 

Alfred Thayer Mahan - The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783 - from a Review by  Harold Y. Grooms at Amazon.com  - "...Mahan's book has had a tremendous impact on history. .. The elements of sea power are the same today as in 1900 when this book was first published. With a world economy as interdependent as today's, Mahan's principles are as valid as they were in the 1600's and 1700's, perhaps even more so. German war philosopher, Carl von Clausewitz's classic treatise, "On War," is considered a must read for every Army officer. Mahan's work is to the sea-battle as von Clausewitz's is to the land. Historians, military strategists, and architects of America's foreign, economic and national security policies should read this important work to gain insights on the necessity of protecting vital and vulnerable sea lines of communications worldwide. "

String of Pearls:Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral - Lt.Col. Christopher J. Pehrson, July, 2006  " The geopolitical strategy dubbed the “String of Pearls” is arising as foreign oil becomes a center of gravity critical to China’s energy needs. China’s rising maritime power is encountering American maritime power along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect China to vital energy resources in the Middle East and Africa. The “String of Pearls” describes the manifestation of China’s rising geopolitical influence through efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, develop special diplomatic relationships, and modernize military forces that extend from the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the Arabian Gulf. .. Each “pearl” in the “String of Pearls” is a nexus of Chinese geopolitical influence or military presence. Hainan Island, with recently upgraded military facilities, is a “pearl.” An upgraded airstrip on Woody Island, located in the Paracel archipelago 300 nautical miles east of Vietnam, is a “pearl.” A container shipping facility in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is a “pearl.” Construction of a deep water port in Sittwe, Myanmar, is a “pearl,” as is the construction of a navy base in Gwadar, Pakistan. Port and airfield construction projects, diplomatic ties, and force modernization form the essence of China’s “String of Pearls.” The “pearls” extend from the coast of mainland China through the littorals of the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the littorals of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. China is building strategic relationships and developing a capability to establish a forward presence along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect China to the Middle East.

Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean - for India

India, the Indian Ocean and Geo-politics Posted on 06.12.06 by Jaffna in the Indian National Interest - "The Indian peninsula (i.e. the Deccan and below) juts 1,240 miles into the Indian Ocean. 50% of the Indian Ocean basin lies within a 1,000 mile radius of India, a reality that has strategic implications. India is one of six countries in the world to have developed the technology to extract minerals from the deep sea bed. Under the law of the sea, it has an exclusive economic zone of 772,000 square miles. Chennai is a mere 3,400 miles away from Perth in Australia, slightly more than the distance between New York and Los Angeles.

The Straits of Malacca, the world’s second busiest sea lane, assume relevance here. 80% of Japan’s oil supplies and 60% of China’s oil supplies are shipped through the Straits of Malacca. US$ 70 billion worth of oil passes through the straits each year. Almost half the world’s containerized traffic passes through this choke point. Most of the ships approach the straits through the 10 degree channel between the Andaman and Nicobar islands. India has the potential to dominate a strategic sea lane. India established its Far Eastern Marine Command at Port Blair in the Andamans. It plans to develop Port Blair as a strategic international trade center and build an oil terminal and transhipment port in Campal Bay in the Nicobar islands.

The conflict-affected Indonesian province of Aceh sits at the tip of Sumatra i.e. the southern entrance of the Straits of Malacca. The Chola empire had an outpost in Aceh in early medieval times while the Portuguese, Dutch and British controlled it thereafter in succession. Aceh has large reserves of natural gas and minerals. The land mark peace accord between Acehnese rebels and Djakarta needs to be viewed in the context of this strategic sea lane."

Cdr. P K Ghosh in Maritime Security Challenges in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, 18 January 2004 - "...The Indian Ocean region, the birthplace of maritime civilization, was considered a playground of rich industrial European nations during the colonial era. With the commencement of decolonization in 1946, the euphoria of independence was overshadowed by the turbulence of internecine conflicts and inter-state wars that followed. During the Cold War era the two superpowers reinforced their maritime influence directly or indirectly through an impressive array of available port facilities in this region. History was repeating itself in an evolved form.

The post-Cold War era has heralded a socio-politico-strategic shift in thought. Globalization, specifically economics, today dominates strategic considerations. This has led to enhanced maritime security concerns, since most regional trade is sea-borne. Despite "maritime bonding", this region has unfortunately not seen the emergence of a vibrant trans-oceanic community. This may be rooted in regional countries’ wide dissimilarities and divergent interests, which have prompted each country to pursue economic linkages with Europe or North America rather than with each other. This has inevitably limited the region’s economic growth.

The Indian Ocean is home to many choke points, such as the Straits of Hormuz, Straits of Malacca, Lombok and the Sunda Straits. Any disruption in traffic flow through these points can have disastrous consequences. The disruption of energy flows in particular is a considerable security concern for littoral states, as a majority of their energy lifelines are sea-based. Since energy is critical in influencing the geo-political strategies of a nation, any turbulence in its supply has serious security consequences. Given the spiralling demand for energy from India, China and Japan, it is inevitable that these countries are sensitive to the security of the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and choke points of the region."

Shaping India's Maritime Strategy: Opportunities & Challenges, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of Naval Staff, India, November 2005

"Sir Julian Corbett, the British maritime strategist who enunciated a diplomatic role for the navy wrote: - “Yes, it is true that the primary purpose of the fleet is to win the ‘Big Battle’. But in the meanwhile, the great dramatic moments in history have to be worked for, and the first pre-occupation of the fleet is to interfere with the enemy’s military, economic and diplomatic purposes.”... During the long years of peace, we need to project power and show presence; catalyse partnerships through our maritime capability; build trust and create interoperability through joint operations and international maritime assistance. Occasions may arise when a state is required to use coercion to achieve national aims, and maritime power is best suited for a graduated escalation...The criticality of the sea-lanes from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca is evident from the fact that of the US$ 200 billion worth of oil coming out of the Strait of Hormuz annually, US$ 70 billion passes through the Straits of Malacca, mainly bound for China, Japan and South Korea. "

Atul Dev on The Indian Ocean: Current Security Environment, 25 May 2007

"Let this be clear: the two major powers of the region, China and India, are scrambling for advantage around the Indian Ocean's rim. China is building military and naval links with Bangladesh and Myanmar. The cooperation between China and African countries is now getting more and more visible, particularly after the China-Africa summit in Beijing in November 2006... Reports available indicate that both India and the United States are studying intensely this rise in Chinese activity. At the last meeting of the Indo-US Defence Joint Working Group held in New Delhi, China's 'growing naval expansion in the Indian Ocean' was noted with concern, about. The meeting also noted: 'China is rapidly increasing military and maritime links with countries such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar.'...Isn’t it time for the ‘owners’ of the Indian Ocean to get together to protect their own interests?  "  more

Geostrategic Import of the Coming Bay of Bengal Naval Exercise -  Ramtanu Maitra, Executive Intelligence Review, 27 July 2007

"...Last April (2007), at a two-day workshop at the Indian Defense Studies Analysis (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, discussions took place on emerging U.S.-Indian strategic relations. One Indian analyst pointed out that although Indians are eager to obtain U.S. technology, a "trust deficit" still exists, based on past U.S. sanctions on India, and Indians worry that at a crucial time they might not be supplied with replacement parts if the relationship goes bad again.... A senior Indian military official delivering a luncheon address to the conference cautioned that Indo-U.S. relations are likely to remain fluid, and unpredictable. He asserted that those relations can be better described as an "evolving entente," and argued that given its size, location, and ambitions, India will always march to the beat of its own drummer..."

The Indian Maritime Doctrine - Rear Admiral P.Sivamani
India in the Indian Ocean - Donald E. Berlin
Doctrinal Re-Awakening of Indian Armed Forces - Ashraff
Asymmetric Warfare & Low Intensity Maritime Operations: A Challenge for Indian Navy - Vijay Sakhuja

Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean - for China
Setting the Stage for a New Cold War: China's Quest for Energy Security - PINR, 25 February 2005  - "..China, which has been a net oil importer since 1993, is the world's number two oil consumer after the U.S. and has accounted for 40 percent of the world's crude oil demand growth since 2000. .. in the presence of sporadic power shortages, growing car ownership and air travel across China and the importance of energy to strategically important and growing industries such as agriculture, construction, and steel and cement manufacturing, pressure is going to mount on China to access energy resources on the world stage. As a result, energy security has become an area of vital importance to China's stability and security. China is stepping up efforts to secure sea lanes and transport routes that are vital for oil shipments.

Anthony Paul - Asian Giants' Game of Chess in Indian Ocean, The Straits Times, 16 May 2007 - " Oil tankers, aircraft carriers, container ships crisscross the Indian Ocean daily – and both China and India have a vested interest in open and secure sea lanes. As a result, both nations compete to woo neighboring nations throughout Africa and Asia: China has sent youth groups to Seychelles to volunteer and engineers to help Pakistan complete a deep sea port at Gwadar for accessing Iranian oil, while India patrols the coast of Mozambique and builds a monitoring station in Madagascar. In what he calls a game of “oceanic chess,” journalist Anthony Paul points out that India and China follow examples set by Europe and the US during previous centuries for pursuing military advantage. Nations looking on from the sidelines can't help but wonder whether the mounting competition for strategic partners around the rim of the Indian Ocean, along with expectations that nations choose sides, will disrupt the region or provide lasting security.

Super Tanker Routes - China

Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean - for Japan
Japan’s Indian Ocean Naval Deployment: Blue water militarization in a “normal country” - Richard Tanter in Japan Focus, 21 March 2006

"By most standards, Japan is now the world’s number two naval power. This article, and the accompanying Asahi Shimbun series on Japan’s four year Maritime Self Defense Force deployment to the Indian Ocean, reveals how far Japan’s military reach now extends within the framework of US-Japan alliance.

...the primary reason for dispatching the Kongo-class Aegis ships (to the Indian Ocean) ...was... undoubtedly...to do with the prodigious area-wide surveillance and tracking capacities of the Aegis air defense system operated by the Kongo-class ships . These would have enabled the MSDF ships to cooperate with both US and UK navy and air units operating not only in the Indian Ocean, but possibly over Afghanistan itself. The possibility has also been raised that they were used to provide air defense warning for the approaches to the giant US-base on Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago – a crucial and ongoing staging ground for both the war on Afghanistan and the war on Iraq."

DDG173 Kongo
The DD173 Kongo is equipped with the advanced Aegis combat system 
equipped with prodigious area-wide surveillance and tracking capacities

Japans New Blue Water Navy: A Four-Year Indian Ocean Mission Recasts the Constitution and the US-Japan Alliance- Asahi Shinbun

"The MSDF played an important role in supplying fuel to the multinational forces that confronted the terrorists' organization in the Indian Ocean. Because ships en route to the Persian Gulf always pass there, fuel was supplied to all that were designated as working against the actions of terrorists.

...In 1991, the MSDF left Japanese seas for the first time to engage in disposing of sea mines off Kuwait. Commander Kawano says, "The difference from the activities in 1991 is that now Japan works in cooperation with ten other countries." He also said, “Japan doesn't go there to fire missiles. Working together with other countries in the same place is what is important."

Admiral Kojo Koichi (59), who has been engaged in the mission from the beginning, told each commander, "This mission doesn’t mean just the support for US-UK military action. What you have done is for Japan. I want you to keep telling the crew this." His words show his recognition of the fact that the sea lane that the fleet uses between Japan and the Indian Ocean is the same one that oil tankers use to link Japan with the Middle East."

Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean - for Australia


The Australian Centre for Maritime Studies Submission to Australian Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, 4 November 2002

"..Vital to Australia’s economic well being is the security of maritime trade, particularly in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. The world’s principal trading blocs, USA, EU, Japan/Korea/China/East Asia, comprise mercantile trading nations dependent on Middle East oil to sustain their economies. Australia’s economy is tied to these principal trading blocs. Significant facts which are relevant to this vital trade.

• The three busiest container ports in the world are to be found in East Asia – Hong Kong (12,500,000 TEUs p.a.), Singapore (10,500,000 TEUs p.a.), Kaohsiung (Taiwan) (5,500,000 TEUs p.a.)

• On any one day 40% of the world’s mercantile marine is to be found in East Asian waters between Singapore and Korea.

The high percentage of the world’s oil tankers which transits the Straits of Hormuz (NW Indian Ocean) and the Malacca Straits.

Any major disruption to these Sealines of Communication (SLOCs) would have a major impact on the day-to-day lives of Australians so that as part of our national security strategy Australia should have deployable maritime forces able to contribute to SLOC security operations including operations to counter piracy,‡ an increasing problem in our immediate region. To quote Paul Dibb: ‘Almost half the world’s maritime trade passes through the confined straits and archipelagic waters of Southeast Asia and the South China Sea.’ The economic implications of a major disruption to sea-borne trade would impact severely on Australia."

Australia's Maritime Environment "...The importance of the maritime environment is both a worldwide reality and one with particular significance for Australia. 70 per cent of the surface of the Earth is covered by sea and this means that maritime power is frequently the most efficient means of applying force in a conflict... The area of direct interest to Australia’s security encompasses a substantial percentage of the Earth’s surface. Australia adjoins the Pacific Ocean in the east, the Indian Ocean in the west, the South East Asian archipelago in the north and—sometimes forgotten—the Southern Ocean. Our maritime jurisdictional areas alone comprise more than eight million square nautical miles (or almost 16 million square kilometres). Our security requirements are such that maritime forces can find themselves rapidly moving from one extreme of climate and local sea environment to another... Naval forces conduct surveillance and enforcement operations in concert with several civil agencies. ... Australia’s interests involve even greater issues of distance than do our imperatives of territorial defence alone. One major interest is the continuation of the free movement of shipping through maritime South East Asia. The most direct routes to Japan and Australia’s other major trading partners in East Asia are through the archipelago. Interruption of or interference with international shipping would have immediate effects on Australia’s economy and its export competitiveness..."

Myanmar, Coco Islands - China

Coco Islands
Sudha Ramachandran  in Myanmar plays off India and China, 17 August 2005 - "..Myanmar's military government leased the Coco Islands to the Chinese in 1994. China has a maritime reconnaissance and electronic intelligence station on the Great Coco Island and is building a base on Small Coco Island. The significance of these facilities for China stems from the fact that the Coco Islands are located at a crucial point in traffic routes between the Bay of Bengal and the Malacca Strait and lie very close to India. India's first joint services command, the Joint Andaman and Nicobar Strategic Defense Command, is headquartered in Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.

The Coco islands are an ideal location for monitoring Indian naval facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also movements of the Indian navy and other navies throughout the eastern Indian Ocean. India believes that the Chinese are using the Coco Islands to keep an eye on India's missile-testing facilities at Chandipur-on-Sea located in the eastern coastal state of Orissa.

According to Indian defense analyst Rahul Bedi, "China is reportedly training Myanmar's naval intelligence officials and helping Yangon execute surveys of its coastline contiguous to India." Drawing attention to the "burgeoning naval cooperation" between the two countries, he writes that China is helping Myanmar modernize its naval bases at Hianggyi, Coco, Akyab, Zadetkyi Kyun, Mergui and Khaukphyu. It has provided help in building radar, refit and refuel facilities that are expected to support Chinese submarine operations in the region..."

A.B.Mahapatra in Commanding the Ocean, 16 May 2001  - " China is in control of Myanmar’s Coco Island with a powerful Russian-made radar and electronic surveillance system and has subsidiary electronic listening posts in Man-aung, Hainggyi and Zadetkyi Island. "Chinese technicians," says The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) of London, "have been spotted at the naval bases at Monkey Point, near Yangon, and Kyaikkami, south of the port city of Moulmein. There is also a Chinese-built radar station on Saganthit island near Mergui in south-eastern Myanmar…the new radar equipment is Chinese-made and probably operated, at least in part, by Chinese technicians, enabling Beijing’s intelligence agencies to monitor this sensitive maritime region. China and Myanmar have pledged to share intelligence of potential use to both countries." 

Chittagong, Bangladesh - China

ChittagongBangladesh plays the China card - World Affairs Board - "Bangladesh is offering its Chittagong port to the Chinese navy, providing it access to the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. To some extent, China already enjoys access to the Bay of Bengal thanks to the Myanmar junta, who also provide it with offshore naval and electronic surveillance facilities at the Coco Islands in near the Andaman Sea. Similarly, China is assisting Pakistan with the Gwadar deep sea port which it can access via overland routes through Pakistan."

Karnaphuli River and Harbour Approach

Bangladesh-China- Defence Cooperation Agreement's Strategic Implications: An Analysis, by Dr. Subhash Kapila, 14 January 2003  - " Despite protestations by Bangladesh, that the Defence Cooperation Agreement is not aimed at India, the symbolic value, if not anything else, would dismay India greatly. India cannot ignore the strategic embrace of Bangladesh by China, whose strategic implications are:

* China's strategic intrusiveness in South Asia gets further reinforced.

* Bangladesh’s enhanced military profile will have to be factored in India's future military plans.

* India will now have to factor in a fourth strategic concern in its operational plans, namely China-Pakistan-Bangladesh military collusion in the context of any Indo-Pak or Sino–Indian conflict.

* China’s naval intrusions are facilitated by Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal area.

* India’s North East region's strategic vulnerabilities (especially the lines of communication) become more complicated.

* India’s IRBM deployments in the North East against China will now need more securing.

All the above concerns are realistic and one cannot be dismissive about them as conclusions of an overactive imagination.... Till now it appeared that the United States had a good military hold on Bangladesh. The United States had been providing military training assistance to Bangladesh. Bangladesh Armed Forces personnel were participating in US Pacific Command’s training events and the US Marines had carried out familiarization exercises in Bangladesh. On the economic front, the United States had been more than generous towards Bangladesh. Logically, therefore, Bangladesh, should have turned to the United States for military Insurance to offset her threat perceptions, basically focused on India. That it did not do so, and turned towards China, carries strategic implications for the United States as follows:

* China had earlier outflanked United States strategic interests in the Gulf region by its strategic nexus with Pakistan.

* China can now outflank United States strategic interests in South East Asia by reinforcing the defence cooperation with Bangladesh into a strategic nexus.

* China adds Bangladesh as an additional pressure point against United States in South Asia in addition to Pakistan.

* China’s containment by the United States at some future date becomes complex with Pakistan and Bangladesh in a strategic nexus with China.

Visakhapatnam Naval Base, Andhra Pradesh - India


India's Eastern Naval Command  "The Eastern Naval Command, with its Headquarters in Visakhapatnam, is .. a full-fledged operational command, whose primary role is to safeguard against aggression on the eastern front and provide security to Indian territory, ports, harbours, oil platforms and other maritime assets and resources in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Hundreds of ships carrying vital cargo including crude oil, transit through the Malacca Straits every day. These vessels depend on the Indian Navy for their safe passage. ... "

Visakhapatnam: India navy drops another anchor -  Sudha Ramachandran, 17 October 2006  "The Indian Navy is getting a new base on the country's east coast. It is 50 kilometers south of Visakhapatnam, where the navy's eastern command is headquartered. This is India's second east-coast naval base, and it is designed to help protect the country's trade with Southeast Asia and to keep a wary eye on China's naval posture in the Bay of Bengal. The new eastern naval base, along with INS Kadamba would thus emerge as second-tier defense in depth at sea for the Indian Navy... The proposed base on India's east coast is the latest addition to its rapidly growing naval and maritime profile. India's navy is the fifth-largest in the world... India describes the waters extending from the Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca, from Africa's east coast to the western shores of Australia as part of its "rightful domain". An overwhelming proportion of India's imports, especially its oil imports, come by sea. Control over sea lanes of communication (SLOCs) is therefore vital for realization of its dreams of becoming a global economic powerhouse. All this requires a naval and maritime fleet that can protect the SLOCs. .. Over 50% of India's trade passes through the Malacca Strait... An enhanced naval presence in the Bay of Bengal is therefore vital for India. It was this that prompted India to set up a naval command on the Andaman and Nicobar islands. . The proposed base would have comprehensive anti-air, anti-submarine and amphibious capability, meaning a greater allocation of priority to the emergent Chinese naval force posture in the Myanmar region..."

Indian Naval Station Kattabomman,Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

The Flag-Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, O. P. Bansal, at INS Kattabomman Tirunelveli on 14 May  2005, after unveiling the statue of Veerapandia Kattabomman.

INS Kattabomman, located at Tirunelveli - Global Security.org  "Whereas a submarine on the surface can transmit and receive wireless messages just like a ship can, submerged submarines can only receive wireless messages on Very Low Frequency (VLF). VLF transmitters require huge antennae suspended high above the ground. The initial discussions were solely with the Russian side, from whom the submarines had been acquired. Inquiries with western manufacturers indicated that better technology might be available from America. Parallel discussions were therefore pursued, both with Russia and with America. Between 1979 and 1984, modalities were worked out for American company in collaboration with an Indian company to assume responsibility for the detailed design, manufacture, site installation and commissioning of the VLF transmitting station. During the same period, the Defence Research and Development Organisation designed the antennae to be fitted in the submarine for receiving VLF transmissions. Installation of the VLF Transmitter commenced in 1987. Trials completed in 1989. On 20 Oct 90, the VLF Transmitting Station was commissioned as INS Kattabomman."

Indian Navy  "INS Kattabomman, located at Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu is home to a VLF (Very Low Frequency) station and communications network. It allows the Navy to communicate with its submarines, underwater, at long ranges. It can monitor surface vessels and can distinguish between merchant vessels and naval vessels over long distances in the Indian Ocean. It is the first of its kind in Asia and its technology was developed locally. VLF facilities exist at Chennai and Calcutta as well."

Andaman Islands & the Straits of Malacca - a Choke Point

Andaman Islands - Malacca StraitsWorld Oil Transit Chokepoint Sea Lanes Of Commerce Security in the Asia Pacific, Professor Ji Guoxing,  Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2000 - "The Straits of Malacca, being the main corridor between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, has as many as 220 ship movements in both directions per day at present, and would have 275 ship movements by the year 2000. ..About 26 tankers, including three fully loaded supertankers heading for Asian ports, pass through the strait daily.'.. Tankers using the waterway by 2010 will be two to three times more numerous than today.  ''If the strait were closed, nearly half of the world's fleet would be required to sail further, generating a substantial increase in the requirement for vessel capacity.''

Shaping Security in India’s Maritime East: Role of Andaman & Nicobar, G S Khurana, Commander in the Indian Navy and a Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses - "...India has very high stakes in the Bay of Bengal and its adjoining seas. The confluence of vital sea lines makes this region one of great strategic relevance to other powers as well. This translates into both challenges and opportunities for India. The Andaman & Nicobar archipelago had long been perceived as India’s key vulnerability due to its remote location and a history of some of its islands ‘slipping away’ from the Indian dominion. Such wariness may be unfounded in the present times. Appropriate measures have been taken to strengthen its defence. The island chain can now play a greater role towards securing India’s vital interests in the East beyond merely protecting itself. To achieve this, India needs to adopt a two-fold approach – first, augment its intrinsic capabilities, and second, actively engage its maritime neighbours."

The Straits of Malacca: the Rise of China, America’s Intentions and the Dilemma of the Littoral States
- Mokhzani Zubir & Mohd Nizam Basiron, Centre for Maritime Security & Diplomacy, Malaysia

Stirling, Cockburn Sound - Australia

HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West, Garden Island at Global Security.org

HMAS Stirling is Australia's largest Fleet Base, capable of supporting half the fleet. It is located on Garden Island in Cockburn Sound off Rockingham, Western Australia in the Indian Ocean. The island is connected to the mainland by a 4.2 km long causeway. Rockingham is about 50 km south-west of Perth. It includes a Submarine Escape Training Facility - one of only six in the world and the only one in the southern hemisphere constructed.

" In late 2002 the Australian government agreed to allow the US military to use the HMAS Stirling naval base in Cockburn Sound on the west coast of Australia to trial its new “sea-swap” program. The plan is aimed at boosting US naval firepower in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. Critics charge that the Australian Federal and State Governments are working to make Cockburn Sound a defacto base for the US navy. The plans include flying thousands of US military personnel in and out of Western Australia to meet US warships in Cockburn Sound. Under the proposal the US navy would use WA as a swap over point for the 7th fleet. Navy crew coming in and out of theatres of war would go straight to WA instead of US bases in San Diego or Hawaii. The state government is investigating the possibility of upgrading facilities at the Australian Marine Complex in Cockburn Sound so that deep-water US aircraft carriers can use the base. It has also established a task force involving the ship repair, tourism and accommodation industries."

Stirling Naval Base at Global Security  " HMAS Stirling naval base in Cockburn Sound is located 15 kilometers from Fremantle, a densely populated suburb near the state capital Perth. Garden Island is the site of Australia's first free or non-convict settlements. The island is 5 km off the mainland and is right next to one of the fastest growing residential areas in Australia, Perth...

During World War II, Garden Island was used by the army, navy and "Z" force. Careening Bay Camp (CBC) near Garden Island was also called the Special Boat School Training school for "Z" Special Operations Commandos. During WWII gin batteries were located on Garden Island and the secret unit (Z-Force) operated and trained there for their clandestine raids against the Japanese. Following the war it became a holiday resort again and the home of the RAN Reserve Fleet....

Cockburn Sound is haven to Australia's naval defence capability for the Indian Ocean Region. Cockburn Sound is home to significant maritime facilities including the Australian Marine Complex's shipbuilding and Australia's Naval Forces stationed at Fleet Base West, Garden Island. More than 2500 naval personnel are based on Garden Island ...

HMAS Stirling is also the Headquarters of the Australian Submarine Squadron with all submarine training being carried out in the Navy's large Submarine Systems and Training Centre and the associated seven storey Escape Training Facility on the island. Other ships based at Garden Island are the replenishment oiler HMAS Westralia, and the busy patrol boats HMAS Bunbury and HMAS Geraldton. Australian Clearance Diving Team Four is also based at HMAS Stirling. Still expanding within its existing perimeters, HMAS Stirling is considered a good example of how with careful environmental planning and research the Australian Defence Force can live in harmony with nature..."

Sethusamudram Project & India

Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project - Report by Dr. P. Sivalingam  "...India had maritime trade with various countries of the world since time immemorial. Shipping trade among the various coastal ports both on the west and east coast was also going on for a very long period. India has a peninsular coast of 3554 nautical miles. However, it is rather unfortunate that India does not have a continuous navigable sea lane running within her territorial waters..."

Venkatesh in Sethusamudram: Strategic Asset, 26 May 2005 - "..Apart from the commercial aspect, the proposed channel will improve tremendously the power projection capabilities of the Indian armed forces not just in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal but deep into the Indian Ocean as well as far as the Antarctic ice fields.

It will make possible the quick transfer of warships and personnel between the Southern Naval Command at Cochin and the Eastern Naval Command at Vishakhapatnam as well as the Coastguard installations on both Indian seaboards.

A case in point was the Indian military intervention in the Maldives when elements of the Sri Lankan militants sought to overthrow the Gayoom government and set up a support base in the island-nation for operations within Sri Lanka. At that time the Indian Air Force airlifted a commando force which nipped the invasion in the bud and the Indian Navy intercepted a ship and captured the group that was preparing to install itself as the government in the Maldives.

Tactically, it means that India will be able to bring to bear in any interdiction mission within 1000 km of its coastline a larger, more compact, strike force in both attack and defence. This will be more particularly true when India acquires the second aircraft carrier and possibly a third indigenously-designed “sea control ship” to be built at the Cochin shipyard.

The ability to deploy a carrier-led task force will make for a sea-control mechanism comprising aircraft, surface ships and submarines altogether a very formidable means of power projection. Since every task force will include landing ship tanks (LST) the ability to effectively patrol and protect the offshore island territories of Lakshwadweep in the Arabian Sea and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and the exclusive economic zones surrounding them will be improved exponentially.

Dharmaretnam Sivaram in Geo-Strategic Implications of Sethusamudram, 6 October 2004 - "The Sethusamudram Project.. would give India a firm grip on one of the world's most strategic and busiest sea-lanes. This would eventually give India very remarkable leverage in its relations with China, Japan and the US. All the oil supplies to Southeast and East Asia that originate in the Middle East are shipped from ports in the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf. The sea-lanes from here converge in the Arabian Sea and then pass through the Gulf of Mannar and curve off the western, southern and southeastern coast of Sri Lanka. This sea-lane then turns northeast through the Bay of Bengal towards the Malacca Strait. Eighty percent of Japan's oil supplies and sixty percent of China's oil supplies shipped on this sea-lane. Almost half of the world's container traffic passes through the choke points of this sea-lane and its branches in the Indian Ocean. ... The strategic importance of this by-pass should also be understood in the light of New Delhi's ambitions for becoming the Indian Ocean's predominant naval power."

US views Tamil Nadu as 'gateway state' - Lt Gen (retired) Dan Christman, US Chamber of Commerce, 11 March 2007  - "Tamil Nadu is a gateway state for international business as it connected both to the east and the west. US-India defence relationship has been improving. US companies are getting acquainted with India's rather intricate procurement arrangements and educate their counterparts here about our (US) systems... about our new, sophisticated US military equipment. This is an area of significant commercial promise"

Kappal Oddiya Thamilan


Chola Empire at the height
of its Power circa 1050 AD

செந்தமிழ் நாடெனும் போதினிலே -
இன்பத் தேன்வந்து பாயுது காதினிலே
சிங்களம் புட்பகம் சாவக - மாதிய
தீவு பலவினுஞ் சென்றேறி - அங்கு
தங்கள் புலிக்கொடி மீன்கொடியும் - நின்று
சால்புறக் கண்டவர் தாய்நாடு (செந்தமிழ்)
Bharathiyar

Kappal Oddiya Thamilan: The Overseas Exploits of the Thamils & the Tragedy of Sri Lanka- G.K.Rajasuriyar "...There is a saying in Tamil, `Thirai Kadal Odiyum Thiraviam Thedu'- ride the mighty sea in quest of treasure. The Tamil spirit of that age and captured in verse compiled by Avaiyar reflected the Tamil spirit of adventure that brought glory to King and country. The huge vessels of the Pallava Kings of Southern India struck East-Wards on the monsoon and by 100 BC, Indians met Chinese in the Straits of Malacca. The Tamils plotted the course to the Straits of Malacca never to be forgotten. They found it easy thereafter to bead towards the rising sun from Kanchipuram in a direct course to the Straits of Malacca. Their return journey with the change of the monsoon they sailed with the setting sun on the Bay of Bengal. It is stated by historians, that 'the Bay of Bengal was a playground of the Tamil sailors'... The foot-prints of the Tamils in far-flung countries of the East, has been documented by the countries where they have left indelible marks in the sky-line, of imposing Hindu and Buddhist temples, culture, religion and in certain places contributed in the development of their language, from ancient times."

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

‘Strategic Significance of Sri Lanka’ - Ramesh Somasundaram of Deakin University quoted by  P.K. Balachandran in  Hindustan Times, 30 May 2005 - "Sri Lanka has had strategic importance in world history since the 17th century, attracting the Portuguese, Dutch, French, the British, and the Indians, in succession. Now, we may add a new entity, “the international community”, to the list of interested parties... Trincomalee has immense significance in this age of nuclear weaponry and nuclear submarine-based missile systems also...Given the depth of the harbour, nuclear submarines are able to dive low within the inner harbour to effectively avoid radar and sonar detection.."

Video-Interview with Dharmaretnam D. Sivaram on the strategic interests of the big powers in Sri Lanka

Another U.S. base in the Indian Ocean? - B. Muralidhar Reddy in the Hindu, 9 March 2007 "..The ten year Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) signed by the United States and Sri Lanka on March 5, which provides for among other things logistics supplies and re-fuelling facilities, has major ramifications for the region, particularly India. For all the sophistry and spin by the Americans, the ACSA is a military deal and, on the face of it, is loaded in Washington's favour. For the U.S., it is as good as acquiring a base in the Indian Ocean and at little or no cost...

Just a few years ago, such an agreement would have been inconceivable given the sensitivities of India in view of the geographical proximity of Sri Lanka. For example, the grant of permission by Colombo to Voice of America to establish its transmitter in the island and the leasing of oil tanks in Trincomalee port to pro-American firms were major bones of contention between India and Sri Lanka for decades. Both the subjects were covered elaborately in the exchange of letters between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lanka's President J.R. Jayawardene as part of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. "

Trincomalee Harbour

Hambantota, Sri Lanka - China

Hambantota Port

HambantotaChina moves into India's back yard, Sudha Ramachandran  in Asia Times, 13 March 2007 - ".. China is all set to drop anchor at India's southern doorstep. An agreement has been finalized between Sri Lanka and China under which the latter will participate in the development of a port project at Hambantota on the island's south coast. ...the significance of Hambantota to China lies in its proximity to India's south coast and on the fact that it provides Beijing with presence midway in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is a critical waterway for global trade and commerce. Half the world's containerized freight, a third of its bulk cargo and two-thirds of its oil shipments travel through the Indian Ocean. It provides major sea routes connecting Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia with Europe and the Americas and is home to several critical chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca...."

 From "China fear" to "China fever" - Pallavi Aiyar, Hindu, 27 February 2006 - "Sri Lanka is also being treated to a Chinese charm offensive. Mr. Wen proposed to upgrade Sino-Sri Lankan relations to an "all-round cooperative partnership" when he visited Colombo last year. In the aftermath of the devastating tsunami in December 2004, China committed $19 million to the reconstruction of six fishing harbours. During his visit. the Premier pledged an additional $8.7 million to the tsunami-afflicted country in the spirit of "being a good neighbour and a good partner."  China has further offered a preferential buyers' credit scheme for development projects. Currently several such projects are under way in Sri Lanka with Chinese financing and assistance, including the Hambantota Bunkering System, the Puttalam Coal Power Project, and the rail link between Katunayake and Ratmalana...That China was able to gain observer status at the SAARC summit in Dhaka in November 2005 as a result of pressure from Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, despite Indian reluctance, shows how far its influence is spreading in the region. "

China undertakes construction of Hambantota Port, 11 April 2005
China, Sri Lanka Joint Communique , 3 September 2005

Marao, Maldives - China

"The location of the Republic of Maldives astride the major sea lanes in the Indian Ocean is of strategic relevance to India" - Indian Ministry of Defence's Annual Report, 2000 Indian Ocean - Maldives

China's Submarine Base in Maldives - "China may have clinched a deal with the Maldives to build a naval facility capable of hosting submarines on the island of Marao, 40 km from the capital Male. According to the Israeli website DEBKA, the deal may have been signed and sealed in May 2005  during Premier Zhu-Rongji's visit to Male. It will allow China to lease the island for 25 years and develop it, which means jobs for the locals. Pakistan apparently, was instrumental in 'persuading' the Maldives to lease the island to the Chinese. The island will be operational in 2010. It's not clear how India, given its excellent relations with the Maldives, allowed this deal to go through."

" China's big worry is the extended lease of the US's Diego Garcia base, and American moves to deploy submarines in the Malacca Strait despite Malaysia and Indonesia's refusal to give permission in February, and the certain presence of at least two US submarines in the Taiwan Strait to defend Taiwan against China."

"Marao is one of the largest of the 1192 coral islands grouped into atolls that comprise Maldives and lies 40 km south of Male, the capital. Coral islands make fine submarine pens. The Peoples' Liberation Army Navy or PLAN proposes to deploy nuclear submarines fitted with sea-launched Dong Feng-44 missiles and ballistic missiles (SLBMs) in Marao. "

Diego Garcia - US

Stealing a Nation - The two part film about the US bases in Diego Garcia by John Pilger show the lengths to which Britain and the USA will go to secure their strategic interests in the Indian Ocean. Part One - Part Two


Diego Garcia - Aerial View

US Navy builds Stingray-esque base in Indian Ocean - Frogmen, mini-subs to operate from nuke motherships - Lewis Page, 7 April 2007 - "... The base improvements will allow its new class of SSGN nuclear submarines to operate from Diego Garcia... The tiny island group is situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, giving the US and its allies access to various strategic maritime choke points such as the Straits of Hormuz – the entrance to the Gulf – and the pirate-plagued waters of the Bab-el-Mandeb at the foot of the Red Sea. Perhaps even more significantly in the light of recent events, Diego Garcia is a useful base for operations off the south-eastern coastline of Iran, close to the border with the lawless frontier regions of Pakistan.... SSGNs aren't your average nuclear submarine... (They) can nowadays carry 66 elite special-forces frogmen, who will typically be Navy SEALs or possibly members of the new US Marines MARSOC outfit.

Some reports suggest that up to 102 underwater warriors may be able to cram in for short periods. The subs will have a "dry hangar", an underwater docking bay allowing the frogmen to deploy from their mother ship aboard SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDVs), minisubs which can carry them in to enemy coastlines. Once the frogmen are in action, perhaps ashore in coastal regions, in enemy harbours or far inland by river, they won't be lacking support. A normal submarine can, of course, launch cruise missiles to attack targets inland; but the SSGNs are something special in this regard. Each sub is said to carry up to 154 Tactical Tomahawks, robot kamikaze jets which can be remotely piloted to strike locations a thousand miles inland..."

Diego Garcia - US Submarine
Diego Garcia - US Submarine

Madagascar -  India

Delhi all ears in the Indian Ocean - Sudha Ramachandran in Asia Times, 3 March 2006 "India is reportedly planning to set up a high-tech monitoring station in northern Madagascar to tackle piracy and terrorism, while keeping an eye on China and the sea lanes that are so critical to Delhi's economy and security. It would be the first such facility New Delhi has opened in another country..  India will pay US$2.5 million to lease the station, because it apprehends threats to its strategic naval assets and its political, economic and military interests in Africa," the online Public Affairs Magazine reported. "The monitoring station will have high-tech digital communication systems." The monitoring station is in tune with Indian maritime doctrine that envisages an ambient forward naval presence from the Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca. Madagascar is in a rough neighborhood. To the north is civil-war-racked Somalia, which hasn't had a functioning central government for more than a decade." 

Cochin in Kerala, India


Indian Navy to station spy drones in Kochi, Times of India, 23 December 2005 " India's maritime snooping capabilities are all set to get a boost, with the Navy now ready to operationally deploy its first-ever squadron of Israeli UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or spy drones. The Navy's first UAV squadron, with eight Searcher-II and four Heron UAVs, which can transmit imagery in real-time to their ground control stations by day as well as night, will be formally commissioned at Kochi by Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash on January 6. "

Defence India " The Indian navy is deployed under three area commands, each headed by a flag officer. The Western Naval Command is headquartered in Bombay on the Arabian Sea; the Southern Naval Command in Kochi (Cochin), in Kerala, also on the Arabian Sea; and the Eastern Naval Command in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, on the Bay of Bengal. Additionally, the navy has important bases in Calcutta and Goa. The Southern Naval Command is responsible for naval officer training, which occurs at the Indian Naval Academy in Goa. Officer candidates are largely drawn from the National Defence Academy. After commissioning, officers are offered specialized training in antisubmarine warfare, aviation, communications, electronic warfare, engineering, hydrography, maritime warfare, missile warfare, navigation, and other naval specialties at various naval training institutions, many of which are collocated with the Training Command headquarters on Willingdon Island, near Kochi."

Shunya.net on the Development of Cochin " ...Cochin, or Kochi, today refers to a cluster of islands and towns, including Ernakulam, Mattancheri, Fort Cochin, Willingdon Island, Vypin Island, and Gundu Island. The Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral founded the first European settlement on Indian soil at Cochin in 1500. Vasco da Gama, discoverer of the sea route to India, established the first Portuguese factory (trading station) there in 1502, and the Portuguese viceroy Afonso de Albuquerque built the first European fort in India there in 1503. The city remained a Portuguese possession until it was conquered by the Dutch in 1663. .. Cochin prospered under Dutch rule (1663–1795), shipping pepper, cardamom, other spices and drugs, coir, coconut, and copra.. British rule over Cochin lasted from 1795 until 1947. In early 20th century, a modern port with dry docks and ship repair yards was constructed, and Willingdon Island (connecting Fort Cochin with Ernakulam and other townships by a rail bridge and road) was built from the dredgings of the harbor's inner channels. After India's independence, Cochin became the major training centre for the Indian Navy."

Karwar in Karnataka, India

KarwarA base for a blue-water navy - Project Seabird, Karwar - Hindu Report 3 June 2005  - "INS Kadamba in Karwar, India's first naval base with a port controlled exclusively by the Navy, and the biggest of its kind this side of the Suez, is all set to be commissioned..."

India's Project Seabird and Indian Ocean's Balance of Power, PINR, 20 July 2005 - " Project Seabird (at Karwar in Karnataka). This plan - with origins from the mid-1980s - is to be assessed in light of two geopolitical triangles juxtaposing on the Indian Ocean's background: U.S.-India-China relations and China-Pakistan-India relations. .. India is emerging as a major power that follows its own grand strategy in order to enhance its power and interests... The geopolitics of the Arabian Sea and the Western Indian Ocean largely explain India's determination in such an $8.13 billion enterprise. The China-Pakistan-India triangle is more than ever the Arabian Sea's decisive geostrategic setting... Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on May 31 that the naval base INS Kadamba in Karwar, Karnataka state will protect the country's Arabian Sea maritime routes. Kadamba will become India's third operational naval base, after Mumbai and Visakhapatnam."

INS Kadamba - INS Seabird at Global Security  - "...Project Seabird was a program to establish a new Naval Base, the INS Kadamba. This base would be India's first base exclusively for naval ships and the largest. Prior to its existence, naval ships shared space with commercial vessels at the two major ports in Mumbai and Visakhampatnam as well as smaller enclaves in Kochi, Goa and other small ports. A new Naval Base on the western coast was sanctioned in 1985 primarily on strategic consideration for completion by 1995 to provide additional infrastructure for the growing Naval Fleet. Karwar in Karnataka was chosen as the location of this base. The base would is under the jurisdiction of the Western Naval Command."

China's Strategy of Containing India - Dr. Mohan Malik, 6 February 2006 - "...India's so-called "healthy competition with China" is becoming one of rivalry. In fact, China's behavior toward India is not much different from that of the U.S.' behavior toward China for the simple reason that China is a status-quo power with respect to India while the U.S. is a status-quo power with regards to China..."

Karwar - Project Seabird
Birds Eye View of Project Seabird

Gwador, Pakistan - China

Gwador

China funds big deep-sea port in Pakistan -  Zarar Khan Associated Press 26 May 2007  GWADAR, Pakistan -- By the waters of the Arabian Sea, a remote Pakistani fishing town is being transformed into a massive deep-sea port to cash in on the inexorable rise of the Chinese economy.
Gwadar port, a $250 million project that is 80 percent Chinese funded, is expected to start operations later this year to capitalize on its strategic location amid South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The port lies near the Straits of Hormuz, through which about 20 percent of the world's oil is transported. Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz recently said Gwadar could "change the map of shipping in the world" and serve as a regional energy hub for shipping and refining oil from the Persian Gulf.

Ziad Haider on Baluchis, Beijing, and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port , 10 May 2004 - "..Gwador lies at the heart of President Musharraf’s vision of prosperity for Pakistan. It is meant to transform Pakistan into a vibrant hub of commercial activity among the energy rich Gulf and Central Asian states, Afghanistan, and China, and to provide the Pakistan Navy with strategic depth along its coast-line as a naval base. The port will also enable China to diversify its crude oil import routes and extend its presence in the Indian Ocean. Thus, China’s contribution of technical assistance, 450 workers and 80 percent of the funds for the construction of the port, is one of the latest chapters in the storied “all-weather” friendship... China’s primary interests in the Gwadar port are to continue consolidating its relationship with Pakistan through large - scale collaborative development projects, to diversify and secure its crude oil import oil routes, and to extend its presence in the Indian Ocean. In 2003 China imported 51 percent of its total crude imports from the Middle East; however, increasing piracy in the Straits of Malacca has compelled China to look for alternate routes.."

Gwadar in Pakistan: China's Naval Outpost on the Indian Ocean  - "Four months after the U.S. ordered its troops into Afghanistan to remove the Taliban regime, China and Pakistan joined hands to break ground in building a Deep Sea Port on the Arabian Sea. The project was sited in an obscure fishing village of Gwadar in Pakistan's western province of Baluchistan, bordering Afghanistan to the northwest and Iran to the southwest. Gwadar is nautically bounded by the Persian Gulf in the west and the Gulf of Oman in the southwest...Initially, China was reluctant to finance the Gwadar port project because Pakistan offered the U.S. exclusive access to two of its critical airbases in Jacobabad (Sind) and Pasni (Baluchistan) during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. According to a Times of India report on February 19, 2002, Gen. Musharraf had to do a lot of explaining for leasing these bases to America. China, the Times of India reported, was also upset with Pakistan for allowing the U.S. to establish listening posts in Pakistan's Northern Areas, which border Xinjiang and Tibet. When China finally agreed to offer financial and technical assistance for the project, it asked for "sovereign guarantees" to use the Port facilities to which Pakistan agreed, despite U.S. unease over it. "

Strategic Importance of  Gwadar Port - "..Located at the entrance of the Gulf and about 460 kms from Karachi, Gwadar has had immense Geostrategic significance on many accounts. The continued unstable regional environment in the Gulf in particular as a result of the Iran/Iraq war, the Gulf war and the emergence of the new Central Asian States has added to this importance. Considering the Geo-economic imperative of the regional changes, the ADB’s Ports Master Plan studies considered an alternate to the Gulf Ports to capture the transit trade of the Central Asian Republic (CAR) as well as the trans-shipment trade of the region. Both Karachi and PQA were considered for such development but were found unattractive to major shipping lines due to the remoteness from the main shipping routes, the limitations of draft for mother ships and large bulk oil carriers and the comparative long turn around times. The ADB studies, however considered Gwadar to have the most advantageous location for such an alternative port in the region, which could handle mother ships and large oil tankers in due course.

Indian Ocean Region - a Satellite View

Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies - Course Curriculum


http://www.apcss.org/graphics/index.htm

Introduction

After roughly a decade in the strategic wilderness, the Indian Ocean region again is becoming an arena of geopolitical rivalry among world powers and local states. This course will constitute an exploration of the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean region in contemporary world politics. For the maintenance of the peace and stability of the Indian Ocean Region, it is of the utmost importance that regional, coastal, island, and landlocked states become aware of the geopolitical orientations of one another and of their Indian Ocean neighbors.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, participants will:

1. Be familiar with the international politics and key security issues affecting the Indian Ocean and the states on its littoral;

2. Be able to describe the roles of the various nations of the Indian Ocean in regional political, economic and social affairs;

3. Be aware of the potential for inter-state cooperation and conflict in a region of the world - - the Indian Ocean - - of growing strategic importance.

Approach

The approach will be to facilitate dispassionate inquiry into the security prospects of the Indian Ocean area, including the region’s small island states. To this end, the instructor will introduce the topic of the day by means of a brief presentation. This will be followed by a seminar-type discussion. A variety of key questions will be addressed.

What unifies the Indian Ocean as a region?
What are the factors that divide it?
Are we really justified in treating this area - - or the “Atlantic” or “Pacific” - - as integrated "regions" worthy of study?
What are the major historic divisions in the Indian Ocean’s past?
How does this legacy influence the contemporary strategic and political environment in the region?
What is India’s stake in this region and how does New Delhi perceive this region in terms of India’ evolving strategic interests?
What is the relative importance for India of the Indian Ocean and of “maritime” issues as compared to New Delhi’s “continental“ orientation?
What is the security situation and outlook for the various island states of the IO region?
What are the goals and interests of outside powers in the IO and what is the nature of their involvement?
What is the status of the various regional institutions in the Indian Ocean region?
Is the Indian Ocean region “under institutionalized”?
How might we best enhance the prospects for security and cooperation in this region?
Among other topics covered, the elective will include sessions on the Swahili Coast and the African Islands, the Arabian Seas, and the Bay of Bengal and the Straits of Malacca.

Course Requirements

Fellows are expected to do the required readings and to come to class prepared to engage in a lively dialogue on the issues to be addressed that day. Fellows also will be asked to prepare and deliver short presentations explaining the nature of his or her country’s connections with the broad Indian Ocean Region.

Organization of Course

Session 1: Oceans Connect, Oceans Apart

Session 2: The Indian Ocean Region: An Introduction

Session 3: The Historical Background of Indian Ocean Security

Session 4: Strategic Trends in the Indian Ocean Region

Session 5: India and India’s Strategy in the Indian Ocean

Session 6: The Swahili Coast and the African Islands

Session 7: The Arabian Sea

Session 8: The Bay of Bengal and the Straits of Malacca

Session 9: The Islamic Resurgence in the Indian Ocean

Session 10: The United States in the Indian Ocean Region

Session 11: China and the other Major Powers in the Indian Ocean Region

Session 12: The Indian Ocean and the Second Nuclear Age

Session 13: Ocean Politics in the Indian Ocean

Session 14: Toward Comprehensive Security in the Indian Ocean Region: Regional Cooperation, Confidence Building and Arms Control

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