Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said that at any given point in time, 4-6 PLA Chinese ships along with research and fishing vessels are on sail in the Indian Ocean, but they are under a “close watch” for want of maritime security.
Responding to a volley of questions on China increasing its naval capabilities to dominating maritime presence at the annual Navy Day press conference, Admiral Hari Kumar said, “There are a lot of Chinese ships which operate in the Indian Ocean Region. We have about 4-6 PLA Navy ships, then some research vessels which operate. A large number of Chinese fishing vessels operate in the Indian Ocean Region. We keep a close watch on all developments.”
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The Navy chief noted that nearly 60 extra-regional forces are always present in the IOR, but the country’s economic zone is secured from any intervention.
The PLA had docked Yuan Wang 5, its research and survey vessel, at the Hambantota Port in August despite India raising its objection with Colombo. The movement of the vessels of China, which has the world’s largest Navy having 355 ships, invariably coincides with missile tests India does, and the Indian Navy has also been tracking them.
On China launching the world’s first semi-autonomous drone carrier ship, which is feared to be used for surveillance, Admiral Kumar stated the Navy had already unveiled an integrated unmanned roadmap last year and a fair amount of work has been done. Through Swawlamban also, the Navy reached out to the Industry to respond to its requirement and now a doctrine to marry the manned and unmanned capabilities are being attempted at, Kumar told the reporters.
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He said the Navy is ready to “protect, preserve and promote” India’s national interest in the maritime domain. “To achieve this, we have the vision of being a combat-ready, credible, cohesive and future-proof force,” he remarked.