In foreign waters, Navy prepares: refuelling at sea, monitoring on board

Just like the Army has set in place contingency plans at 6-hour notice to counter the coronavirus, the Navy, too, has put in a series of precautionary measures to prevent any outbreak on its ships by minimising port calls at foreign shores and continuous medical monitoring of its sailors.

This, even as it continues with its operations in international waters, including missions of geostrategic importance such as anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Africa.

“We have more than 20 ships out at sea at any point in time which includes coastal patrols and harbour patrols, besides the mission-based deployments in international waters. More than 3,000 Naval personnel are on board these vessels and all precautions are being taken in view of the Covid-19 pandemic,” a government official told The Indian Express.

Worldwide, restrictions to check the spread have reduced port calls at foreign shores to a bare minimum. These calls are significant for logistics support, including critical fuel supply to naval ships.

To overcome this problem, Navy has taken to replenishment at sea, including refuelling of ships in international waters using its own vessels. The last such refuelling was done for INS Tarkash this Tuesday. INS Tarkash has been deployed as part of Operation Sankalp, which started last July and monitors the situation in the Gulf of Oman.

Besides Op Sankalp, a naval ship, INS Sunayna, is currently deployed for anti-piracy missions near the Gulf of Aden, off the eastern coast of Africa. There is another naval deployment for patrolling a strategic choke point of the Strait of Malacca, the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Moreover, two ships of the Navy and one ship of the Coast Guard, as part of the First Training Squadron, are off the islands of Mauritius and Seychelles.

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