India will continue to maintain a naval presence in the troubled Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, which is aimed at protecting and reassuring Indian-flagged merchant vessels and oil tankers transiting through the region.
“The Strait of Hormuz is a major chokepoint. Disruption in trade in this region can have a major impact on our economy. Under `Operation Sankalp’, we will continue to deploy a frontline warship, either a destroyer or a frigate with a helicopter and a marine commando intervention team, in the region,” a senior Navy officer said.
India, in fact, launched Operation Sankalp in June 2019 after mysterious explosions on board two foreign oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, MV Front Altair and MV Kokuka Courageous, amidst heightened tensions between Iran and the US.
With the attacks underlining the vulnerability of sea-borne trade transiting through the constricted geographical locations, the Navy had then dispatched destroyer INS Chennai and patrol vessel INS Sunayna to the Gulf of Oman.
“Indian Navy was the first to deploy ships to safeguard the passage of merchant ships through the region. It was taken on independently and not as a part of any coalition,” the officer added.
Two years later, the continuous forward naval deployment continues. As many as 23 Indian warships in rotation have been deployed to the Gulf region, with an average of 16 Indian-flagged merchant vessels and tankers being provided safe passage on a daily basis.