Indian Navy expands from being regional force to global ‘Blue Water Navy’
Recently, navies of India and Greece held joint naval exercises near Crete islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean is turning into a hotly contested region after Turkey has laid its illegal claims to it. The apparent reason for Turkish claims is the rich energy deposits that this water body has. Thus, organising such an exercise when Turkey is openly and tacitly helping Pakistan against India sends a strong signal to Turkish President Erdogan.
The joint exercise came a week after a successful visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar to Greece. During his tour, he met his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias and also their Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. One of the most strategic achievements of this tour of Dr. Jaishankar was Greece signing on India's Indo-Pacific vision to align with New Delhi. Greece is a signatory to China's BRI and has handed over the Greek port of Piraeus to the Chinese for operations. The change in Greece's stance is thus significant.
At the same time, the Indian Navy also held a joint naval exercise with the South Korean navy in the East China Sea. These waters between South Korea and China are disputed. Moreover, the Chinese fishing militia has been a big bother for Seoul in the East China Sea. The Chinese militias not only do over-fishing in the area but also obstruct activities of the South Korean Coast Guard.
Just before it, India and the EU conducted a joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Aden in the high seas off the coast of Somalia. It was preceded by India's Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the Japanese navy and also multi-domain exercises with US Navy's Carrier Strike Group comprising nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan and others.
With so many exercises, one may think if the Indian Navy is only restricted to simulated environments. However, India's forward naval deployment that stood ready to choke the Chinese trade and energy shipments during the Galwan standoff revealed India's competency and potency to the world.
All these events, when considered together, bring out a large picture. It shows that the Indian Navy has equipped itself to not only guard its own waters but also is ready to step out of its conventional sphere of influence. Moreover, it makes amply clear that the Indian Navy of today is no longer a passive local littoral maritime force but is a global ‘Blue Water Navy’ ready to take on challenges and enemies.